THE MNY SPOTLIGHT

Meet Serena Wolf, Trained Chef, Author, Podcast Host, and Blogger

Introduce yourself!  

Hi! I'm Serena, and I wear a few different professional hats these days! I’m a trained chef, culinary instructor, author of The Dude Diet cookbook series, podcast host, and blogger at Domesticate-Me.com. The arguably more important things about me: I’m a skincare fetishist, mental health advocate, bath enthusiast, easy laugh, and lover of medium-trashy novels and champagne. I currently live in NYC with my husband Logan and our new puppy.

Serena wears the Mira Mini Dress in Ivory

What first inspired you to take a culinary arts class at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris? 

Funnily enough, I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu Paris on a whim. I’m not one of those chefs that can claim a lifelong love of cooking. I don’t have index cards of treasured family recipes, I never spent hours in the kitchen while my mother lovingly stirred spaghetti sauce and whispered culinary secrets in my ear, and I was a disturbingly picky eater for a solid two-thirds of my life.  After college, I planned to do the 3-month basic course on the recommendation of a friend before starting my “real life.” I had the very naïve notion that I would be casually roasting chickens and drinking wine, which was definitely NOT what went down at Le Cordon Bleu…

When did you decide to fully pursue culinary arts as a career?

Not gonna lie, my early classes at culinary school were stressful, sometimes tearful, and filled with a ridiculous number of cuts and burns (which I suppose is unsurprising considering that the only thing I’d successfully “cooked” prior to Le Cordon Bleu was a burnt grilled cheese). But after a couple of months, I became a completely different person in the kitchen. I was gutting and filleting fish, breaking down whole rabbits, and whipping up hollandaise sauce without breaking a sweat, and shockingly, I LOVED it. Realizing that I’d found my (very unexpected) passion, I enthusiastically signed on to complete the full diploma program and never looked back. 

Do you have a favorite memory associated with cooking? Any family recipes that hold a special place in your heart?

I hosted a Thanksgiving for 12 at a friend’s apartment in Paris after my first term of culinary school. I was extremely excited to show off my fancy new cooking skills and had high hopes for a flawlessly executed feast. We don’t need to go into all the truly hilarious details, but let’s just say several things caught on fire, I didn’t discover the top oven was broken until the turkey had already been in it for a couple hours, and we sat down to eat juuust shy of midnight. The food was meh (although the guests maintain the meal was delicious, which I attribute to the fact that we consumed half the wine store downstairs), but everyone pitched in, we overcame many culinary setbacks and got an ab workout from laughing. To this day, it’s one of the best dinner parties I’ve ever had. That cooking memory is one of many that remind me never to waste time stressing about the little things in the kitchen. For me, the goal of cooking isn’t about creating the “perfect” meal. It’s about bringing people together and savoring the joy of feeding people I love as much as the flavors.

Follow Serena on IG @serenagwolf for more delicious food recipes!

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get more creative in the kitchen?

Keep it simple, lean heavily on produce, and don’t be afraid to experiment! I always encourage people to focus on mastering simple techniques that build your culinary confidence, so that you’re empowered to work with a variety of ingredients and more comfortable trying a more complex recipe (someone else’s or your own!). For example, mastering how to roast and stir-fry vegetables, perfect a few types of proteins and grains, make a great frittata, and whip up a handful of staple sauces will allow you to create a variety delicious, nutritious meals with whatever you happen to have on hand!

What does self-care mean to you and how do you practice it? 

Self-care for me is prioritizing the small things that make me feel good/keep my anxiety in check on a daily basis. Non-negotiables, if you will.Exercise tops this list. Even on the busiest days, I will make sure that I find 15 minutes to move (I’m a big fan of Melissa Wood Health’s short pilates workouts). Just a few minutes of movement has a huge impact on my mood and boosts my strength, mental clarity, and overall happiness levels, so making the time for it is truly taking care of myself in the most important way.

What’s your favorite way to unwind and relax after a long day?

This feels wholly unoriginal, but I truly love nothing more than a hot bath. I’ll dim the lights, put on some music (I’m a big fan of the Radio France Station “Fip” and the Hotel Esencia mixes), and max relax in the tub with a medium-trashy book and a cold drink in my favorite Yeti tumbler. 

What draws you to the Mestiza brand? 

I love how Mestiza strikes the perfect balance of polished and playful! Mestiza injects just the right amount of whimsy into classic silhouettes, and their pieces always make a unique statement.

Where are you wearing your Mestiza piece and how are you styling it? Any notes on how your Mestiza piece makes you feel?!

I recently debuted my Mira Mini dress on my last night of vacation at Hotel Esencia! This was a trip that was meant to happen in 2020, so we were particularly excited to be there, and I wanted to wear something that felt worthy of celebrating an epic few days. Styled simply, it makes such a statement, and got so many compliments on the beautiful laser cut lace. I can’t wait to dress it up and down all summer long!

What advice do you have for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

As my dad always says, “It takes 10 years to become an overnight success,” and I love that advice. While some people do blow up quickly, most of us who have built successful businesses in the current food media space have been at it for YEARS and worked at a lot of jobs we didn’t love to build one that we did. Create small goals that work toward your big ones, stay flexible and curious, shamelessly promote yourself (because nobody is going to do it for you), and practice standing in your worth every damn day.

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