Lived In Series ~ Nahvae Frost
Photography: Corey Chalumeau
When we began to think about our Fall 2018 collection, we were first inspired by the women of the Bauhaus movement and their commitment to what was then considered (and often still considered today) to be "women's work." Many of these women were actually cast into to these more "feminine" subjects rather than being allowed to pursue "masculine" studies because of the time, but excelled in their work against all odds.
As we thought about these Bauhaus women, we also thought about all the women in our own lives who inspire us with their drive, their talent, and their genuine sense of self. We realized that these are the women we're designing for - we imagined them cooking, painting, spinning records, or working with clay while in our clothes. We were reminded of why we wanted to design clothing in the first place: to create pieces that encourage comfort, ease, and the unique and honest beauty in each and every one of us.
To bring us back to our original intent, we wanted to capture our clothing on a series of women, all pursuing their own creative paths, to see how they live in Kordal.
To begin our "Lived In Series", we visited our friend Nahvae Frost, owner of the incredibly delicious and beautiful cafe Eleven36, and seriously one of the most talented chefs I've gotten the chance to know. Check out photos from our visit and our Q&A below!
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into cooking? Was it something you've always been interested in? Or was there a particular person or chef that influenced you?
In the beginning - my mother.
Her cooking always had this sense of cultural curiosity - as if she was traveling abroad by way of the food. She wasn't afraid to experiment with ingredients or techniques that were unfamiliar; she made elaborate, detailed, varied meals laid a beautiful table and got genuine pleasure from a meal well-executed and well-received.
I think growing up in this way inherently inspired a relationship with food that feels more like a matter of course than an active choice.
Which local farms to you work/collaborate with and what excites you about working with them?
We work most regularly with Myers Produce - they're a small distributer for a bunch of local farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine; Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop - which is a cooperative for about a 100 family owned farms in Lancaster PA. We work with a few smaller farms as well. It's really the superior level of produce and the contact. Everything they produce is of better quality, clearly tended to and cared for - and we can have a direct conversation with an actual human about any and all of it. They're all aiming for bio-diversity, farm organically as much as possible, their lists are long and varied - I look forward to them every week.
Produce that's grown in this way tastes better, feels better, has higher levels of nutrients - there's really no comparison.
Generally speaking, the way we grow and sell food in this country is abysmal - so working with producers who are taking the time to do what they do deliberately and thoughtfully is the only way forward for me.
When you're working, what type of clothing do you prefer to wear? Can you describe some details, like fabrication, fit, or things that you can't live without?
I like clothing that breathes, allows me to move - clothing that is easily washed - looks good when distressed and worn and can absorb an oil stain. So I wear a lot of linen and cotton and classic workwear. I'm really into these Stan Ray painter pants and the moment. They feel good - they fit well - and they wear well.
I used to joke that if it were socially acceptable for me to wear a unitard to work, I would. If whatever it is I'm wearing is tight - it has to have elasticity so I can move comfortably and quickly - the work we do is super physical - but I'm also into something kind of loose and breathable since it gets so hot and steamy.
I wear a fair amount of jumpsuits to work - I like just having to put one thing on. Otherwise, It's a lot of sleeveless tops for me, or cropped t-shirts, jeans. And whatever it is - it has to have pockets. I'm big into pockets. If it can be buttonless - awesome - no one wants to worry about buttons falling off into anything when they're cooking!
Thanks Nahvae for your good company and insights! If you live in the Brooklyn area be sure to swing by her cafe Eleven36 or sign up for their new CSA program!
Your food has such a distinct style. It feels like a hybrid of west coast healthy, but with spices and seasonings that remind me of Thai or Vietnamese food. I'm no expert though! And I wonder how you would describe your cooking style?
I often say it's inspired by the season... but I think it's heavily influenced by whatever is available wherever I am. I grew up in LA, where it's all one season, year round for the most part; In New York, it's a little different.
Here, I still find myself marveling at the first signs of Spring, ripe blackberries in Summer and I'm still wild for these fingerling sweet potatoes that get me geared up for Winter.
When I travel - I find myself curious and excited about unfamiliar ingredients and eager to explore. Truth be told, I get excited about vegetables, in general.
Stylistically speaking, I'm interested in preparing food that tastes like the best version of whatever it is. You don't have to mess with a ripe tomato in August too much. It doesn't need a whole lot - a little salt - maybe a little oil and vinegar. Maybe a spicy little green. Maybe a plum to eat alongside it. I barely do anything to mushrooms. I'm more interested in amping up their mushroomy quality than making them taste like something else.
I want to feel good when I eat - I want to feel satisfied, content, like all the bells have been rung. But I also want to be able to get up and go for a walk after - and I like to feel light. I try to make food that makes me feel that way - and hope - that I make food that makes other people feel that way too.
I know you've gotten some amazing things off of Ebay! What's been your best find? What's in your queue right now?
Ha! Saying which was the best find is impossible! They're all amazing for different reasons. I love this handmade candle holder we have in the window - it's weird, but I adore it.
I found these ridiculously gorgeous Dorothy Thorpe lucite candlesticks my mom had in the 80's - I scooped up as many as I could - the lines are beautiful. I just bought the stools for the shop off on Ebay as well - I've never seen anything like them and they seem like they were built for the space.
And currently - I'm watching a ton of tables. For where? I have no idea. I just know I'm really into tables at the moment.
Do you play music at the cafe? What artists are you currently listening to?
I try to not be in charge of the music at the shop - I like to hear what everyone else wants to listen to! But when I'm there by myself in the mornings, I've been listening to a bit of folk music, a bit of disco, some R and B, and fair amount of Bowie - he's been making the rounds a lot in the mornings; in the afternoons, it's a lot of 90's hip hop and I'm really feeling current pop these days. But it varies.
And my go to is really more a classic, easy listening yacht rock vibe.