Cooks At Home Sigrid Olsen

By Megan Greenberg / Photography By Jenny Acheson | November 17, 2016
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"I'm certainly not a scientific cook; I'm more of an intuitive cook," says Sigrid Olsen, a name you probably recognize as a neighbor, friend, or a famous fashion designer. "I don't follow recipes. I love to look at cookbooks and then riff on those recipes," she says, somehow making me think she must always have jazz music playing in her kitchen.

Artist, designer, entrepreneur, international retreat creator, and cookbook writer are just a few of the titles Sigrid has held or is currently holding. The woman has worn a lot of hats, so to speak, and, of course, they've all been her own design. Her namesake company became an internationally acclaimed fashion brand purchased by Liz Claiborne in 1999. Though she closed the company in 2008, she continued to grow her already recognizable name with a myriad of other enterprises including her current Creative Wellbeing endeavors, which offer worldwide retreats, and New Designs For Living, a lifestyle fashion concept featured on HSN.

Her public background may incorporate a lot of fashion but the consistent thread in her private life has always been cooking. Her mother was born in Naples, Italy, and though she rarely cooked before emigrating to the States, the gift of great food made fresh was in her blood, a skilled she honed and then passed down to Sigrid.

"I think farmers' markets are going to save the world," she says joyfully, explaining her long-held belief in using seasonal, unprocessed ingredients in her quick dishes based on simplicity and a whole heaping of bright flavors. "If your pantry is stocked properly then you can put together a good meal in 30 minutes," she says.

Some years ago, Sigrid published a cookbook based on those ideals, a philosophy she loved and learned from the back-to-the-land movement of the '70s. "I like to do things fast and easy. I don't like everything to be perfect, meals don't need to be perfect to be wonderful," she continues. "Easy, healthy, beautiful, delicious. That's all you need for a great meal."

Amen to that. Michelin-rated restaurants are magnificent, but a bowl of Sigrid's beloved Coconut Lime Fish Chowder or her aromatic, zesty cilantro sauce poured over just about anything can be just as brilliant.

Every Sunday, Sigrid gathers a group for a planned potluck dinner. The table is flawlessly styled with candles, flowers, place mats, and wine glasses, and the food is just as uncomplicated: grilled fish, a fresh salad, roasted veggies, you get the idea. The meal, of course, centers around seasonal ingredients with bright hints of citrus, herbs, and good salt, with the main point being to equally enjoy the cookout as much as the company.

"Food, wine, and laughter, that's the key to a good evening," she says. Even Escoffier would agree.

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