The Great Ones is a celebration of humans we admire — and an exploration of why they cook, not just how. Rosie Assoulin is a fashion designer, avid home cook, and our first collaborator on our Party Towel collection. We chatted with Rosie about how cooking keeps her grounded in the present moment, while she made baklava at home in New York.
I started cooking when I was really young — around 6 years old! I can’t believe my mom let me in her kitchen; playing with knives and fire is a scary thing. But I would get jazzy and use what was around — no recipes needed.
Not everything needed to be fancy, but it needed to be nutritious and delicious.
I liked watching Jacques Pépin when I was home “sick.” I feel lucky to come from an epicurean culture with roots in the Middle East. We have so many family gatherings, including Shabbat meals. My mom was eager to bring nutrition into our home in a way that maybe not all families were yet aware of. She went to culinary school when I was a kid, and we’d try out her new tricks in the kitchen. Not everything needed to be fancy, but it needed to be nutritious and delicious.
I love the alchemy, the transformation, the experimentation, and learning.
When I’m cooking, I feel a sense of wonder and gratitude. I feel grateful to nature for its sustenance, to the earth for its bounty, to the miracle of growing and harvesting these jewels of the earth. Some days I cook because I have mouths to feed; other days I cook because I am eager to experiment or recreate something. I love the alchemy, the transformation, the experimentation, and learning.
When you are cooking, you’re using all of your senses — using them all to create! It may be the only art form where every one of the senses is engaged; plus, your creativity, intuition, planning, and awareness of time are all in play. And that has a knack for keeping you present and in the moment, which is both thrilling and grounding.
It may be the only art form where every one of the senses is engaged.
Cooking is a way to connect, to share stories, cultures, and histories. Sometimes I cook for the art, the curiosity, the purity, and the chemistry of it. I love the idea of nature and nutrition as a way to heal the body and the soul. A meal is an opportunity to show gratitude and for sharing and connecting to what’s vital. Some days it’s with a fresh haul from the market, and some days it’s with leftovers or scraps.
Cooking is a way to connect, to share stories, cultures, and histories.
I wanted to make baklava because I really like Holy Sheet. I don’t make baklava that often, but, when I do, it always reminds me of my childhood — the holidays, my old neighborhood, and the Middle Eastern pastries down the street.
It always reminds me of my childhood.
It was in the oven a bit too long because I had to pick up my kid in the midst! But that golden color didn’t seem to dissuade anyone. When we walked home through the door, my son asked me if he could have a bite of that “crusty crustacean” I had prepared, and my daughter said, “Ooh, Mommy, what smells so good?“ I had these beautiful walnuts a friend sent me from her Napa walnut orchard and some ghee, and the flavors came together.
Party Towel was put to use! I love our collaborative tea towel set. I love the utility and function, mixed with the whimsy and color of the print. They are something fun and light to have around when you’re cooking and make for a wonderful friend in the kitchen.
Photos by Nicole Cohen.