Elia Wolberger, also known as @feedyoursister, is a personal chef and recipe developer living in New York. We are inspired by her laid-back entertaining style that focuses on gathering loved ones rather than sweating the details. We spoke with Elia (via video chat — of course!) about what she’s eating and how she is staying connected during this period of social distancing and where she is headed once the restrictions are lifted.
How are you spending your time during social distancing?I’m in my studio apartment in Midtown New York City apartment. I don’t feel alone or cooped up yet — thankfully! I have great roof access so I can get outside with practically no human interaction. I have also been able to keep doing my favorite workouts in a new format like @beeyourhealth’s IG Live yoga classes and my ClassPass favorites Fhitting Room and The Pilates Circuit via Zoom. I have been doing calls and video chats that help me stay connected to my family and friends. The other day I even watched a movie with my best friend on Facetime!
Being a private chef and recipe creator, you’re probably eating better than most of us! What have you been cooking these past few weeks?
I’ve honestly enjoyed cooking during this time because I’m not as tired from the day as I normally am. I have been spending lots of my time just planning out meals, using Instagram to find inspiration from other creative cooks out there, and challenging myself to use what I have from my fridge, freezer, and pantry to make something delicious.
Some of my favorites are my Hearty Minestrone, Miso Maple Chicken, or the Easy Shakshuka that starts with a jar of pasta sauce. I have also been using my air fryer a lot — especially on my favorite Bilinski or Trader Joe’s sausages because the air fryer gets them super crispy like at a barbecue.
When this is all over, what are some of the first few gatherings you’re excited to restart?
I can’t wait to get together and hug my family, especially my niblings [nieces and nephews], who I haven’t seen in person for a while. I’m also really excited to get together with my James Beard Foundation Greens group. I had been looking forward to a dinner at the James Beard House featuring one of my favorite restaurants — Eventide in Portland, Maine — that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Even if that doesn’t get rescheduled, our group can get back to volunteering at City Harvest and gathering over great food.
I’m also just really excited to go back to my favorite places with my favorite people. The Wren, my go-to bar, will be one of my first stops. I think it will be the simplest things like hosting a dinner with friends that definitely will make me cheers to being back together.
Okay so imagine you’re hosting your first post-COVID-19 gathering — what will you do?
My entertaining style is very casual! I love having people over — even in my studio apartment where there is only a table for two. I gather much larger groups and we sit on the couch or on the floor.
I wake up at 9 AM to prep and cook all day… but it’s not a chore. Entertaining people brings me so much pleasure! Guests bring wine, so I do all the food — eIther a full meal or shareable / finger foods with a salad or soup. No matter what, I never skip serving dessert. By about 4 PM, I am usually done and ready to have my friends over and then the waiting for them to arrive is the hardest part.
What are your best tips to be a stress-free host?
Definitely planning ahead! First I find out if any guests have allergies or dietary restrictions and make a plan for how to accommodate them in my menu. Like if I’m feeding a vegetarian but want to make my chili, I’ll prep the ground turkey and leave it on the side for omnivores to add in. Once I have the menu, I move on to writing my shopping list and blocking out enough time to gather all my ingredients.
Then, as I said, I leave a good chunk of the day for preparing food, cleaning and getting my space ready. My best recommendation is to leave yourself time to take it one step at a time so you can actually enjoy the getting together once it arrives.