Designer Laura Kim Cares More About Food Presentation Than Taste
Though it’s admittedly a close race.
For Laura Kim, co-creative director of Oscar de la Renta and Monse, food is more than fuel. “It's such an experience,” she says. “You smell it first and then you see it after and then you taste it.” Everything she eats, whether prepared in a Michelin-star restaurant or her own kitchen, looks as good as it tastes.
With her brigade of close industry friends, Kim has cultivated a roster of NYC restaurants to frequent. The fashion aficionado hails from Korea and possesses an unsurprising flair for the French. Her favorite eateries range from the 10-course menu at Atomix to Wayan’s French-Indonesian fusion.
Despite her many visits to loyal haunts like the ones above, Kim’s favorite thing to do is stay in and cook. Throughout the pandemic, she channeled her creative energy toward new recipes, which she enjoyed sharing with her followers on Instagram. The likes of which included Korean Seaweed Crisps, Pressed Sunflower Pancakes, and Acorn Squash Dukkook (rice cake soup). All of which are almost too pretty to eat. (Even a simple radicchio salad looks more like a peony than a vegetable.)
Kim’s interaction with food is learned; she loves to read about cuisine whether that’s in the form of cookbooks or educational literature. Despite the initial shock of vegetable-cancelling statistics from books like Plant Paradox (“I'm like oh my god, there's nothing left”), Kim is attempting to eat and cook healthier. “I'm getting to an age where I have to,” she muses, though the designer only recently turned 40. She’s in the process of planting her own vegetable garden to satisfy her immediate needs: wellness benefits and aesthetic potential (so much color!).
When asked whether taste or presentation is more important she laughs, “I think it's the presentation,” before clarifying, “I still want it to be edible-looking.” Relatable. Ahead, discover Kim’s favorite restaurants and food books to learn more about how, where, and what she eats.
Where She Eats:
Midtown’s Atomix features a 10-course Korean tasting menu that Kim delights in. “It's an experience,” she says.
“The presentation is gorgeous,” says Kim, referring to Kajitsu in Murray Hill. The restaurant specializes in shojin—a vegetarian subset of Japanese cuisine that serves as the foundation for many fine dining specialties.
“I love the food. I love the vibe,” says Kim of Wayan, one of her best friend’s restaurants nestled on Spring Street in SoHo. Wayan puts a French spin on traditional Indonesian cuisine.
La Mercerie is as practical for Kim as it is pretty; the cafe is right near her apartment. “I always go there for meetings and I buy all my plates there after dinner,” she says. “[Breakfast] can get really pricey after shopping.”
Though wellness retreat Shou Sugi Ban House is not a restaurant per se, one of its pillars is the culinary experience. Between the plant-based menu and superior yoga classes, Kim checked in twice last year—a feat for her busy schedule.
What She Reads:
'The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain' by Dr. Steven R Gundry
Is there such a thing as being too healthy? Dr. Steven R Gundry’s ThePlant Paradox explores the potential dangers of plants. Though she enjoyed it, the book was at times perplexing. “It tells you what plants not to eat and I'm like, oh my god, there's nothing left.”
Few terms encapsulate Kim’s approach to food more than the title of Athena Calderone’s cookbook, Cook Beautiful. According to Kim, it’s a great cookbook that she uses frequently.
'French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments From A Village in the Vineyards: A Cookbook' by Mimi Thorisson
Mimi Thorisson’s background extends from Asia to France–two countries’ culinary pairings Kim thoroughly enjoys. “She's like the Martha Stewart of France,” she says of Thorisson. The designer recently attempted her Chou Farci dish to much delight.