To follow Serena on Instagram is to feel like you're chatting with one of your best friends. She'll let you tune in as she cooks dinner a few times a week, and all of a sudden she's inspired you to create something delicious out of whatever you have in your fridge. She doesn't stop at food, though: her passion for beauty and wellness makes her a great person to get recommendations from (her beauty list is incredible), and she also talks about her journey with anxiety in an approachable and genuine way. Get to know her a bit more, below
After college, I moved to Paris and enrolled in culinary school on a relative whim (something only a naive 22-year-old would do). When I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, I knew I didn’t want to be in the restaurant world, and I loved recipe development and storytelling, so I began to grow my blog (domesticate-me.com), which I had started as a creative outlet in Paris to share recipes and entertaining stories with family and friends. I wasn’t making any real income from the blog in those early years, so I had a lot of side hustles! I hostessed in a restaurant, taught private cooking classes and did freelance recipe development before becoming the private chef for a couple players on the NY Giants. In 2015, I landed the deal for my first cookbook, The Dude Diet--which was based on a popular column on my blog--and quit my private chef gig (a job I never felt passionate about but learned so much from!) to focus on the book and blog. A couple years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to limit myself to only talking about food and slowly pivoted into the lifestyle space by speaking and writing about some of my other passions—specifically skincare, fitness, and mental health. I now wear many hats, cookbook author, blogger, speaker, podcaster (I host an anxiety podcast called Spiraling), and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Dude Diet very much started as a joke! When I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) Logan, I was mildly alarmed by his eating habits and deep-seated bias against all “health food.” In an effort to get him to eat a little better and increase his longevity (I’d grown pretty attached to him at this point), I began developing an arsenal of comfort food recipes that were both delicious AND nutritious. In late 2012, I wrote a short post on my blog titled “The Dude Diet” summarizing Logan’s “healthy journey.” The response to that one post--from both men and women alike--was so enthusiastic that I knew I might be onto something.
I find inspiration everywhere! I’m endlessly inspired by foreign foods and flavors I’ve tried while traveling, cookbooks (I have way too many!), magazines, and restaurant meals. My husband Logan is my main muse when it comes to Dude Diet recipes, but I also regularly ask for recipe requests from my Instagram/blog community. I keep a running list of recipe ideas on my phone whenever inspiration strikes. When it comes to recipe development, I’ll write out a draft of the recipe that’s in my head, and then I’ll test it (usually many times) and keep tweaking the quantities and ingredients until it tastes just right.
"I’m endlessly inspired by foreign foods and flavors I’ve tried while traveling, cookbooks (I have way too many!), magazines, and restaurant meals."
I rely really heavily on my Instagram community for recommendations! Once I’ve picked a destination city, I love to crowd-source restaurant and activity recommendations. And good old Google always helps me out in a pinch. ;)
Honestly, I get most of my best recommendations from my closest friends! (God bless the group text!!) My friends and I are constantly fielding each other’s requests for recommendations in all areas from workouts to massage therapists and aestheticians. I also discover a lot of fabulous skincare products through facialists as well! I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a skincare treatment without shamelessly asking the aesthetician 10,000 questions about treatments and products.
I’m perpetually blown away by, and so grateful for, the community that my job has created. My recipes allow me to connect with so many people--readers, fellow chefs, my own friends and family--in a surprisingly intimate way, and the fact that I get to be a part of others’ everyday and celebratory meals never ceases to amaze me.
"My recipes allow me to connect with so many people--readers, fellow chefs, my own friends and family--in a surprisingly intimate way, and the fact that I get to be a part of others’ everyday and celebratory meals never ceases to amaze me."
Thanks so much, Serena! We're so excited to try some of the pantry recipes you compiled, and love the substitution ideas you present.
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