The New Potato: What would be your ideal food day?
Nancy Novogrod: "If in New York, I would have my standard breakfast — half an avocado with Maldon Sea Salt and top-quality imported olive oil (I’m on an eternal hunt for the best), a quarter of a pint of fresh blueberries, and cappuccino made with my new Nespresso machine. Lunch would be scrambled eggs with shaved parmesan at Sant Ambroeus on Madison Avenue, or if it’s a work day, at The Lambs Club. They make their own version of Nicoise salad and I love it. For dinner, I’d go to Il Buco Alimentari for Crispy Artichokes with Preserved Lemon and Bucatini Cacio e Pepe; as long as I’m overindulging there, I’d also have some of my husband’s Slow-Roasted Short Ribs."
Who were some of your mentors through your years in publishing?
"My first and most significant mentor was Rachel Mackenzie, a long-time fiction editor at The New Yorker. I was her assistant during my first job out of college, and Rachel taught me everything I know about writing a good letter and the basics of editing. My next mentor, Jane West, oversaw the Clarkson Potter division at Crown Publishers and showed me how to be a visual editor, and to work with images and text together. Jane died tragically early on in my time there, but she passed on to me the knowledge and opportunity to create the first square-format lifestyle books — High-Tech, French Style, and American Country — which have become an important genre in illustrated book publishing."
How has Travel + Leisure changed since you came on board twenty years ago?
"Travel + Leisure has changed along with the world. When I arrived in 1993, travel to China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Brazil was considered somewhat pioneering. There wasn’t much talk about sustainability, social responsibility, or even authenticity. Staying at a renowned 5-star property in Europe and eating at a famous Michelin-starred restaurant was, for many people, a dream; now, it has more to do with exploration, experience, and local."
How do you discover new restaurants when you’re traveling around the world? What’s that process?
"I ask my editors and correspondents. We have a great global network of people in the know."
If you could make a prediction about where personal travel is headed, what would it be?
"Greater interest in luxury experiences in the wild; more active travel – walking and hiking brings you in closer touch with a destination; more interest in small and individualistic hotels and resorts"
If you could give one piece of advice to those trying to perfect the hotel-restaurant what would it be?
"Make it real — and make it refer to where you are. It can be a sophisticated play on regional styles and tastes, but it must have some connection to place."
What do you read besides Travel + Leisure?
"The New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and the New York Review of Books"
What are your personal top five favorite spots to travel to?
"Southern Italy, Southeast Asia (including Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Bali), Shanghai, the Atacama Desert of Chile, and the American West (Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado)."
Do you have a yearly go-to vacation spot? If so, where?
"I adore Rome and often go to Positano on the Amalfi Coast."
Your airplane must haves…
"My devices – MacBook Air, iPad, iPhone; a cashmere throw and sweater; the newspapers I haven’t had a chance to read; a good novel."
What and where would your last meal be? Who would it be with?
"My last meal would be with my family, and I’d love it to be at Da Giacomo in Milan or at Astrid & Gastón in Lima."
What are some tips to “traveling smart?”
"Plan ahead, so you’ll have time to fit in the things you want to do (in my case, eating at particular restaurants, shopping, going to museums and galleries). Lay out your clothes and edit them in advance; and try to relax."
A go to recipe on a night at home…
"Kale or broccoli rabe, sautéed and steamed with garlic — I add a little Balsamic vinegar or red pepper flakes at the end – with whole wheat pasta or quinoa."
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
"London: Polpo, Nopi, The Wolseley, the River Café; Los Angeles: Gjelina, Hinoki & the Bird, and almost any sushi place; New York: Charlie Bird, Estela, The NoMad, Perla, and of course, Il Buco Alimentari."
In the same vein as “what is the new black,” what would you say “the new potato” of travel is?
"Local — neighborhood restaurants, shops, and experiences."
What are five things you are loving right now?
"Hummus from Cheese on 62nd, made by a Lebanese man; Marni cashmere sweaters; Ruinart pink champagne; smoked Scottish salmon from Russ & Daughters; jackets from my friend, the Shanghai and New York based designer, Han Feng."
On a quest for the next big thing in the food industry, sisters Danielle and Laura Kosann have begun the journey with The New Potato. Profiling chefs, restauranteurs, and celebrities alike with cuisine questionnaires, the world of dining has reached a whole new level of delish.