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

InStyle (USA) - - Directory - by KERRY DI­A­MOND pho­tographed by JOHNNY MILLER

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.”

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