In the Kitchen with Isaac Mizrahi

Isaac Mizrahi’s stardom—he’s one of the most talked-about fashion designers in the world  — has taken him far beyond the runway: he’s hosted his own shows on Oxygen and the Style Network and appeared as himself on Sex & the City, the Apprentice, and as a judge on Iron Chef. For five years he famously brought affordable luxury to Target shoppers and has since become creative director for Liz Claiborne. He’s directed costume design for several Broadway revivals and for the San Francisco Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera, but we, of course, are interested in what he eats. So’s he; when we visited his west side offices he spoke as knowledgably about caviar as couture.

I grew up in New York. My mom was kosher and Arabic and a little crazy. When I left home my father said I’d be back for the food, but I was like, you know what?  I’m over it.  I started cooking because I love the word sauté. (I also became interested in fashion because I loved the word taffeta.) In my twenties I bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking because I loved the photo of Julia Child and the little French man in the big toque. There are so many better books than that. I learned from getting shit wrong from that book –beef bourguinon, duck a’lorange.

Big Book of Clipped and Jotted Recipes
I’ve got so many barbeque chicken recipes it’s pathetic. Dietetic eggplant parmigiana—it’s actually good! Ooh, lemon strawberry mousse cake! I made that up from a recipe I had as a kid! It is the most incredible cake! My aunt use to bring it from Leonard’s on seventy-something and, like, third. She said it was parve. It was so not parve! Then Leonard’s closed and I’ve been dreaming of thie cake and I just DID it! It has to chill for hours.

Carton of cream
I think cream is the greatest thing in the world! People have butter complexes; I have a cream complex. But you just need little bits, not too much. I made this amazing pasta with just a little cream at the end, not even a quarter cup. Really, really delish.

Worchestire Sauce
I love it. It’s like granny’s panties.

Pint of black figs
It’s the right moment for fresh figs. I brush them with balsamic vinegar.

Chocolate-covered graham crackers
I have to have one right now! These are my favorite things! I love chocolate-covered graham crackers. That’s another thing my mother used to have in the house that I used to love. She used to kill herself over like all those serious pastries, and really? Just give me, like, good dark chocolate. I was a fatty so she used to hide shit but I would find it. I was much more wily about finding it than she was about hiding it.  I’d even eat the frozen cookies. Then she’d go to look for them.

Petrossian Caviar
Oh my God! You’re, like, instant chef! All you have to do is bake a potato and put caviar on it and you have men falling at your feet.

Creamline Milk
I wish everything came from Ronnybrook.

Weight Watchers “Double Chocolate Delight” and “Chocolate Caramel” Bars
I’m always on Weight Watchers. These are like two points. I’m allowed to have 26 points a day, if I exercise. I eat these at least once a day. This one’s nasty, I don’t like chocolate and raspberry. I’m like Judy Garland: uppers, downers! Butter, Weight Watchers! I eat it all.

English Muffins
Speaking of a two-point pleasure! Thomas’s is delicious! Here’s what I grew up eating: Thomas’s with margarine and muenster.

Seven Bottles of Unsweetened Guayaki Yerba Mate
Excuse me! This is my life’s blood. I drink like two to three a day.

Vermont Butter & Cheese Crème Fraiche
Delish. How can you go wrong? But it’s like cheating, like caviar.

Dozen Eggs
Eggs are God! Wool is God and eggs are God. I like eggs in every possible way. I make something called World-Famous Frittata, though no one’s heard of it. It’s a weekly occurrence, every Sunday. Pepper, fennel, onions, whatever. I make it for two but you can make it for more depending on the size of your cast-iron skillet.

Pommery Pop
I like champagne but it gives me a headache. This has been in here since December. It’s bad.

Somerdale English Butter
I can’t figure out what a tablespoon of this is. Without the red line [on the package] how am I supposed to bake with this?

I make a delicious egg white dish with gouda! Also leftover potatoes with gouda and chives. You think you’ve got it with gruyere. But gouda!

Queso Cheese
There’s a great Rick Bayless flank steak recipe that calls for this. Honestly queso cheese makes anything taste like cheap Mexican food.

That’s a hunk of cheese if ever I saw one. Delicious! I don’t get people who serve chunks with drinks though.

Le Creuset
In my twenties I bought one hundred pieces for literally a hundred and fifty dollars. I have the most gorgeous set at home –all white! I don’t wanna see cream, I don’t wanna see stone. Just white.

Induction Burner
It’s nice for osso buco.

They’re too big. I do not agree with it. I don’t want a bagel on steroids.

Tasty Delite
I crave it at the beach, in Bridgehampton. I thought about bringing it out and re-freezing it in an ice cream maker.

Stella D’Oro Breakfast Treats
YOU TRY finding those in LA or, like, Toronto. Doesn’t happen.

Chez Panisse Desserts
This is one of my favorite books. So precise. See? Seven-eights of a cup of sugar! It opens right to pistachio ice cream, which is too delicious for words. Perfectly really, really good. I love [Chez Panisse]! That’s the best restaurant.

Cooking fish
If you can do beautiful fish you’re a poet. You know who taught me to cook fish? Rocco. In the toaster. For, like, 40 minutes.

San Pellegrino
This is my favorite drink. I add lemon and stevia. Delicious, all-natural, no-cal. No calories darling!

Photo credit: Michael Harlan Turkell