When we were at Alt Summit in January
, we took a cooking class with Kelsey Nixon
--chef and host of Kelsey’s Essentials on the Cooking Channel. In the springtime, Kendall and Justine met up with Kelsey at her NYC apartment (FYI: her place is amazing. No surprise there!). Fast forward to Fall 2014, and we're still in touch. In fact, Kelsey now owns the Blue Jean Baby Classic Ankle Bootie and a pair of Poppy Barley flats. To our delight, she wore her ankle boots for a segment on the flippin' Rachael Ray Show a few week's ago! (And yes - Rachael complimented her on her Poppy Barleys!)
We are honoured and so thrilled to collaborate with Kelsey, and had so much fun reading her answers to a series of questions we sent her once she received her shoes. She is smart, driven, extremely talented--exactly the type of person we believe our customers to be. For someone who is beautifully petite, Kelsey says the 3.5-inch heel gives her the extra boost in height she likes for TV, and superior comfort for someone who is constantly on her feet all day.
Before you read our Q&A with Kelsey below, check out this blog post
to find out firsthand what she thinks about her Poppy Barleys, how to use pulled pork across 5 meals (okay!), and what it was like for her to be on the set of the Rachael Ray show again (years ago, she used to intern on Martha Stewart and on the same set!). Behind-the-scenes photos below.
Happy reading (and cooking)...
Who is your favourite chef?
Bobby Flay. Not only is he unbelievably talented as a chef and restauranteur, but he had been a constant source of mentorship and support to me over the years. I feel quite certain that I wouldn't be where I am today without his guidance.
What's your signature dish?
Lately I'm known for making my Lemon Scented Crispy Chicken Thighs with Potatoes & Baby Carrots.
It's one of the most popular recipes from my cookbook Kitchen Confidence
and I feel that it sums up my cooking style in one dish. The ingredients and flavors are classic, yet put together in a new and interesting way. It's also a one pot meal making dishes a breeze - and I'm always a fan of that!
What's your signature spice or herb?
I think that two of the most under-utilized ingredients in most home cook's kitchens are salt and pepper. Properly seasoning food with these simple spices/seasonings will take your cooking from good to great. I recommend kosher salt for everyday cooking along with cracked black pepper. Keep them close to your stove and season your food often throughout the cooking process tasting as you go.
What's your favourite course?
Dessert. I have a serious sweet tooth and many times would opt for cake over steak for dinner!
What's the ultimate indulgent dish you make?
My Banana Split Icebox Cake
is just as fun to make as it is to eat. It's indulgent without being too heavy and so delicious!
What's your go-to outfit when you cook?
When I'm testing recipes at home you can usually find me in a V-neck t-shirt, jeans, waist apron, and comfy shoes. My hair pulled into a top knot and I've always got music playing. It's really therapeutic for me to be in the kitchen and I think it's important for me to feel comfortable.
What kind of footwear do you wear on TV?
First and foremost, it has to be comfortable footwear as I'm on my feet nearly 14 hours for a typical shoot day. But, because I'm on camera it also has to be stylish. That's why Poppy Barley is such a great fit for someone like me!
What kind of footwear do you wear walking around New York?
As a city dweller (and mom) I feel like I have to make practical choices, meaning that I have to be ready to walk miles a day in the shoes that I'm wearing. In the summer I can always be found in good supportive flats and in the winter I wear tall boots as they help to keep my legs warm during the cold winters.
Where do you pull inspiration from when creating your own recipes?
The inspiration for my recipes comes from my mentors, restaurants here in the city, and I'm really inspired by seasonal ingredients.
Does your personal style infiltrate your approach to cooking?
When it comes to food I'm constantly preaching that your food must look as good as it tastes. We eat with our eyes first, so if you make an incredible recipe, it's worth taking the time to put in just a bit of effort to garnish it and plate it beautifully. It will make the whole cooking and eating process more enjoyable. I'd like to think that when it comes to my personal style, I follow a similar approach. I like feeling "put together" and I feel more productive and confident when I make an effort to wear something beyond yoga pants and my favorite sweatshirt. Admittedly this has somewhat decreased since becoming a mom, but I give it my best!
What's your key to getting food stains out of clothing (like tomato sauce?!)?
I firmly believe that the best thing for removing a stain is to treat it as soon as possible – whether it's with a stain remover or something as simple as baking soda and water, quick treatment will make a huge difference in completely getting a stain out. On my show, my wardrobe stylist swears by Wet Ones
to remove stains in clothing and this Janie Stick Spot Cleaner
On set, you have custom countertops so that they are comfortably at waist-level. What other areas of your life do you customize to fit your lifestyle and meet your needs?
It was initially done to make me look taller! As I get older, I find that I value customization so much more. It makes a product or a service more enjoyable and meaningful. I'm a huge fan of taking clothes to a tailor to get the perfect fit. That's why I enjoy Poppy Barley so much – it's like a custom tailor for your feet!
What's the story behind your book, Kitchen Confidence?
Writing a cookbook has been on my bucket list. It's something I always wanted to do and I'm so glad I did it! Kelsey's Essentials was a great platform for the book and I consider Kitchen Confidence
a wonderful companion to the show. After putting together a book proposal, it was sent to multiple publishers. I ended up choosing to work with a publisher that I've admired for years. I was so thrilled that they wanted to work with me as well. Writing the book was hands down the most challenging thing I've ever done in my career. I have unbelievable respect for any author out there. The book writing process took about 2 years from start to finish and was a labor of love. I've been so happy with the initial success of the book and hope that it continue to perform really well. The feedback from readers has been really encouraging
– almost encouraging enough to do it again! It was such an exhaustive process that I'm just now starting to think about a second book. I'd love to write another cookbook on modernizing family dinner.
You work with you sister, Kylie Whiting, often. As Poppy Barley's Kendall and Justine make being sisters and co-founders work, and have written about it before, we're interested in hearing what it's like for you?
I do work with my sister a lot and she's responsible for all of the photography on my blog. She's an incredible talent and even takes the stills photos for my show, Kelsey's Essentials. Working with my sister is one of the greatest blessings in my life. We have really different personalities that contribute to a relationship with good balance. Her talents compliment my talents and vice versa. I wouldn't choose to work with anyone else!
What advice would you give someone going on live television for the first time?
It's so important to be well prepared. Know your content backwards and forwards. It's also incredibly important to be yourself, but don't make the mistake of "winging it" in the name of "being yourself." Also, the more you spend time on camera, the more comfortable you'll be. Seize every opportunity that you get!
What advice would you give to someone dreaming of having their own cooking show?
My best advice would be to first figure out what it is you want to say to people. What is it that you want to represent in the cooking world? Pick an angle and commit to it. You must become an expert before people will trust you. Once you've zeroed in on what your point of view is, create a platform to have a voice. Whether it's a blog, a youtube channel, or a recurring gig on a morning show, get your message (and food!) in front of people.
How do you balance being a mom with the demands of promoting your first book and hosting your cooking shows?
I feel overwhelmed all the time! My son Oliver is 2 and I'm still searching for the right balance between work and home life. It feels like a juggling act most days but I'm very grateful that I get to spend a lot of time with my son. When I'm filming days are long and intense, but that only accounts for about 6-10 weeks out of the year. The rest of the time I have more flexibility and can do a lot of my work from home including recipe testing. Admittedly most of that work happens during nap time and between the hours of 8pm-12pm, but it works for me and my family. Being organized helps me feel like my life is more in control than it actually is. I think that organization helps me manage the stress of it all.
And finally - how do you like your Poppy Barleys?
I'm in love with my Poppy Barleys! They're everything that I'd hoped they would be – comfortable, stylish, and unique. The only thing I notice when wearing them is how much I like the way they look on my feet! No issues whatsoever with breaking them in or getting used to the fit. I chose the Blue Jean Baby Classic Ankle Bootie
because I loved both the color and the style. I love the way they look with jeans - because they're a similar color, I feel like they make my legs look longer which is always a plus when you're 5 feet tall! I also chose them because I thought they were a great option for filming purposes, which they have been perfect for.
*Stay tuned for our post + contest tomorrow, as the whole Poppy Barley team attempts a #PoppyBarleyThanksgiving using recipes from Kelsey's cookbook, Kitchen Confidence.