The pandemic reminded us just how important health is… both our own physical and mental wellbeing as well as the health of our environment. When NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author and healthy-lifestyle expert for NBC’s TODAY show, Joy Bauer, set about redefining her personal space and home office (aka – her kitchen!), she was instinctively drawn to Lapitec for its eco-friendly durability and classic, timeless beauty.
One thing that unites Italy and America is definitely the social aspect of food and sitting together at the table. What are the current food trends in America?
Americans love to eat—and we love delicious food. We enjoy the history of different foods and how they make us feel. And of course, we love dining together with loved ones and friends. There’s a social aspect to the ritual of eating meals. Families catch up over dinner, friends laugh and bond over happy hour appetizers, memories are made at birthdays, holiday celebrations, and anniversaries, where food plays a prominent role. I think this is true of people in most countries. Food is nourishment, food is love, food is social. Food is a glue that helps keep us together.
I’ve also seen more of a focus on plant-forward meals here and abroad. Beans, lentils, soy, and vegetables are taking the starring role in entrées, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Plant-based foods are better for our health and better for the health of our planet. (They’re often cheaper, too!) Making even one or two meals plant-based each week has significant benefits. I love to make a Veggie Lentil Stew and Mushroom Lentil Bolognese, which are so delish!
Ever since the pandemic, people are cooking more at home, which is a wonderful change of pace. Home-cooked meals are inherently healthier because you control the ingredients and what goes in, which means you control the calories, fat, sodium, and sugar in a dish. It was so fun to see all the videos of people experimenting with my recipes in their kitchens, or read news articles about the boom in at-home breadmaking (yeast was hard to find in supermarkets—and so I came up with a no-yeast bagel to share!). People are even growing their own herbs (with indoor kitchen gardens as well as outdoor gardens). As a chef and foodie, I’m beyond happy that people are cooking more and I’ve been busy churning out recipes to help keep them inspired.
The pandemic reminded folks just how important health is. It encouraged folks to do what they can—exercise, eat a healthy, balanced diet, manage stress—to take care of themselves. I think that’s partly why there has been a significant shift toward foods and ingredients that are wholesome, real, and natural. Fresh produce, whole grains, lean proteins are making up a larger portion of our diets. Americans are now focusing on foods that nourish the body and soul, as well as foods that are better for our environment.
At the same time, Americans want to enjoy the foods they’re eating. Forget about deprivation—they want foods that taste good as well as foods that are good for them. (Hello, pasta!) Meals should be an experience—you can sit down with few to no distractions, thoroughly savor your food, talk with friends and family about the day.
The foreign countries that attract and inspire you in your recipes and the design you would like in the kitchen…
I’m a total foodie. I love all types of cuisines, and find inspiration for my recipes everywhere, from small specialty stores to big supermarkets, from gourmet food shops to restaurants. I enjoy the rich flavors of Italian cuisine, the aromatic spices featured in Indian fare, the variety of Chinese food, the freshness of Mediterranean dishes, and the vibrancy of Mexican recipes. I try to take the foods that we all love from these categories and put a healthy spin on them. I stay true to the classic, but find clever ways to cut carbs, sugar and sodium, while sneaking in beneficial ingredients. My General Joy’s Chicken is a lightened-up version that everyone in my house devours, my black bean tacos are great for meat lovers and vegetarians alike, and my Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala is a spice lover’s dream come true. And dare I say…my hearty Superfood Minestrone, my Italian-style Sausage, Peppers and Onion Hero, and my creamy Penne Alla Vodka …are renditions my Italian friends devour!
How big would your ideal kitchen be? How should the space be distributed? And what tools or equipment are essential so that it functions perfectly?
I have to say that my current kitchen is my dream kitchen, one I created with the help of architect, Jason Castrounis of Casa Design, and our designer, Augusta Hoffman, to fit my life and professional needs perfectly. It allows me enough room to move comfortably—from oven to sink and sink to counter. It has plenty of storage for all my kitchen appliances, gadgets and tools (I guess you could say I’m a bit of a collector, LOL). It’s TV-filming-friendly with high ceilings and an open design. And it’s bright and inviting with pops of beautiful color. I’m so lucky!
But I’ll never be done trying to find ways to elevate it—I’m always looking for trinkets to incorporate from all my journeys.
Well-being is at the heart of your philosophy, which promotes healthy cooking and a balanced diet, but also pays particular attention to the theme of sustainability as a vehicle of comfort for humankind and the planet. How important is the “healthy” and “green” aspect, not only of food but also of home design products, for you and your audience?
I make a conscious effort to be as Earth-friendly as possible, from shopping to prep to clean up! I use paper or metal straws instead of plastic in my mocktails and smoothies. At least three times a week, I opt for meat-free recipes (a chili or burger featuring beans, lentils, and tons of produce), which are more eco-friendly than meat-containing meals. I shop for fresh, in-season produce and use it all up before it goes bad. Of course, I use canvas shopping bags and reusable plastic containers and baggies for my leftovers. Even small changes add up to a healthier planet!
The kitchen is where you prepare, cook, taste, talk, eat, and work – in different ways depending on the time of day. It is a space that has to be multifunctional, and the worktop plays a fundamental role in this. What does the choice of Lapitec mean in this context and what pluses does it provide?
The goal when designing my kitchen was to create a fresh, clean look, one that doesn’t require tons of upkeep and care. As I mentioned, I needed a TV-friendly kitchen for filming remote spots. Plus, I’m super busy so anything that helps simplify and streamline my life is a must. The Lapitec counters are absolutely beautiful while being nearly care-free. I chose a crisp white with subtle gray veins for filming purposes but I also love so many of their additional color options. It’s basically indestructible, which I thoroughly appreciate. It’s resistant to heat, bacteria, and odor. Plus, it’s eco-friendly. It delivers on so many levels and was my obvious choice.
Client: Joy Bauer, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author and healthy-lifestyle expert for NBC’s TODAY show
Material: Lapitec Bianco Vittoria in a Satin finish
Designer: Augusta Hoffman, Augusta Hoffman Studio
Architect: Jason Castrounis, Casa Design