Some of us can’t handle the heat of the kitchen; and then there’s Athena Calderone. Athena’s flawless taste has inspired us for years via her personal style blog, EyeSwoon and now fills the pages her brand new debut book, Cook Beautiful. Full of gorgeous imagery, dynamic design tips and modern recipes with a timeless feel, this new cookbook promises to be every design-lover’s favorite gift this year.

We asked Athena to dish on her favorite cookbooks, staple indulgences and most delicious cooking memories. Get inspired below, then find even more from Athena here

On my kitchen playlist:

Funny you should ask. I worked together with four of my favorite female DJs to create seasonal Cook Beautiful playlists on Spotify to cook along to with the change of seasons. I am obsessed with a remix of Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine – Lido Remix” on Mia Moretti’s fall playlist.

First recipe you learned by heart:

The pear tart in Cook Beautiful was the first pastry I ever made and I have been creating it on auto-pilot for more than 15 years!

First cookbook you fell in love with:

Likely The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters – kinda changed the way I think about food and seasonality.

Best thing you recently ate:

The other night I made the pan roasted chicken dish from Cook Beautiful and had leftover shallots and dates. The following night I roasted a sweet potato and made couscous, which I combined with those tart and buttery shallots and the sweet dates. I also added some serrano chili and lemon zest – they bring the heat and brightness and make the yummiest mix. It was an impromptu meal made from salvaged ingredients in my kitchen, and it was bursting with fall flavor. I love the creative amalgamation that springs from a scrappy dish!

Fave kitchen tools:

Definitely a cast-iron skillet, a sharp knife and a mandoline.

Fave healthy staples lately:

Delicata squash, weekly. And maple water – obsessed!

Ultimate indulgence when out:

Red wine or bourbon.

Why you’re proud of your cookbook:

Cook Beautiful encompasses all of my various lifestyle pursuits – food, design, art, music, seasonality and entertaining. I love to create beauty, whether that is by building bold flavor, artfully plating food, styling a stunning tablescape or designing an environment that engages the senses. I yearned for a place I could share my overlapping passions with a level of permanence – something that will live on forever, as well as capture this very magical moment in time.

I have learned so much over the years as I’ve honed my skills and worked alongside the incredible food community. I’ve gained insights on elevating the presentation of our food and the importance of eating locally and seasonally. With Cook Beautiful, I wanted to share all that I have experienced, to spread inspiration. The book is a product of the artistic expression I enjoy both in the kitchen and in creative direction through styling, composition and storytelling.

Best cooking memory:

Making my grandmother’s whipped sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving with my son. Jivan and I cook them together every year, and I used to make them with my Nonna growing up. We embrace the mess. There are always bits of sweet potato on the wall and in our hair. Love it!

3 cookbooks that should be in every kitchen:

Definitely any cookbook from Ottolenghi. I also love the Gjelina cookbook. And Missy Robbins’ new book, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner… Life.

In my kitchen you’ll always find plenty of…

Lemon, olive oil, herbs and chili peppers.

Fave recipe from your cookbook?

I really love the Whole Roasted Chicken with Sumac, Roasted Vegetables, and Sesame Labne. It is a standard in our home weekly, really easy and accessible and delish. I also eat the delicata squash on repeat in autumn. And the romaine salad is simple, bright and delicious.

Find more beautiful inspiration with our complete ‘In the Kitchen’ series here!

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