SWEET AS PIE Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi and chef Marie-aude Rose whip up a potato pie
The culinary star and the French chef get nostalgic about spending time in their childhood kitchens and cook up a family favorite
Some of the best cooking I ever did was in my grandmother’s kitchen on a small two-burner stove.” —PADMA LAKSHMI
Say Sbonjour to La Mercerie, New York’s dreamiest restaurant. Situated on a Soho corner inside the Roman and Williams Guild, this all-day eatery has been setting Francophile hearts aflutter since opening in late 2017. Sunlight streams in through tall windows, baby blue silkmohair banquettes run the length of the dining area, and buttery croissants shine like jewels in delicate glass cabinets. There’s even a flower shop tucked in beside MarieAude Rose’s open kitchen. “It’s like home,” the Paris-born chef says.
Almost everything in the Guild’s luxe shopping emporium, founded by renowned interior designers Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, is for sale, from the restaurant’s linen napkins to brass-and-walnut bar carts and white oak platform beds. Thanks to Rose, La Mercerie’s culinary offerings stand out against the merchandise.
Frequent guests like Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, and Padma Lakshmi come to feast on favorites such as buckwheat crêpes with egg, ham, and Comté or beef bourguignon served over pasta.
“This is my neighborhood joint,” says Lakshmi, the Top Chef host, author, and United Nations good
wi will ambassador who has come for a cooking less lesson. Rose is showing Lakshmi how to mak make her grandmother’s potato pie, a belo beloved family recipe that represents her culi culinary ethos: artistry, technique, and high high-quality raw materials. “I worked in Mi Michelin-starred restaurants—i can make anything,” says Rose, who came to N.Y.C. in 2016 to help her husband, chef Daniel Rose, open Le Coucou, another French hot spot. “But what I want to eat and share with everyone is the taste of each ingredient.”
With the mise en place laid out, Rose and her glamorous apprentice get to work slicing potatoes and carving half moons into puff pastry. “It’s very pretty in here,” says Lakshmi, gesturing at the glossy green-gray tiles and a custom Athanor stove as La Mercerie staff bustle about prepping for the day. “It looks like this kitchen is for show, but it really hums.”
“I worked with Robin and Stephen on that,” says Rose. “Chefs want a space that’s easy to work with. I fought for things like more storage.” Lakshmi can relate. “Some of the best cooking I ever did was in my grandmother’s kitchen on a small two-burner stove,” she says. “But in my 40s I finally got to design the kitchen I’ve always wanted.” Lakshmi says she loves spending time cooking with her 9-year-old daughter so much, she designed her home with the kitchen as the centerpiece. “It’s always the best place in the house,” confirms Rose, who cooks with her kids (ages 5 and 7) and husband, mostly on weekends. “It’s important to have moments when you can sit with family, share your food, and share your life.”