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It’s immediately obvious that Eden Grinshpan makes the best kind of happy hour buddy. Within five minutes of introducing myself at the downtown Manhattan Mediterranean spot Vic’s, Grinshpan — who’s sitting propped up high on a barstool — has already quizzed me about my apartment, my plans that weekend, and where my shoes are from. Her long, light brown hair swings as she leans in emphatically, making everything she says feel like it’s the most important thing in the world.
Over the past few years, this friendly, familiar vibe has won the 29-year-old cook and TV host a loyal following of hungry fans. But, as Grinshpan explained with a self-deprecating laugh, her success came about a bit haphazardly. She said that she "applied on a whim" to London's Le Cordon Bleu per her father's suggestion, and was shocked when she was admitted. After graduation just a few years ago (and a stint at New York City vegan bakery Babycakes), the Toronto native made her Cooking Channel debut in the 2012 series Eden Eats.
The show followed Grinshpan as she traveled to a new city for a 24-hour culinary tour. She's since hosted Cooking Channel's Log On & Eat With Eden Grinshpan and popped up on VH1's Morning Buzz; in her off time, she pals around with the likes of Rebecca Minkoff and Lauren Bush (whose FEED Organization Grinshpan supports). It's not surprising that her warm persona has earned her a cult following. Her 17,600 Instagram followers are treated to a goofy inside look into Grinshpan's #foodporn lifestyle; she also regularly updates her blog Edeneats.com with recipes and videos.
When we met, Grinshpan was wearing a pair of vintage Levi's jeans from Brandy Melville ("my new obsession," she said), a buttery black Acne leather jacket, and a white Zara turtleneck, her feet clad in black Alexander Wang motorcycle boots. Grinshpan said that she chooses her outfits depending on how she happens to feel that morning. "The best thing about fashion is how what you wear can affect your energy for the day," she explained. "My plans when I wear jeans and leather jacket are totally different from when I wear my high-waisted ‘70s pants. It gives you a different energy and a different attitude, and I think your outfit really affects your kind of approach."
Over glasses of white wine (she charmed the bartender into a complimentary second round), Grinshpan gave us a rundown on the serendipitous series of events that led her to her current gigs. She also shared her packing tips, what she wears when she's cooking on live TV, and obviously, her style philosophy.
What was your style like growing up?
I've always been a creature of comfort. I wear clothes that I'm comfortable in because they allow me to be my kooky, crazy self and never hold me back. When you're uncomfortable, you wouldn't want to do the splits in the middle of the hall. I went through a phase where I wore pig slippers in high school. [Laughs] I've always had an interest in fashion; but, when I got to New York, it opened my eyes to creating your own fashion sense.
You can wear whatever you want here.
I've seen people wear the craziest things, but they wear them with so much confidence that I find myself wanting to wear what they are wearing. New York City has such a fierce fashion culture that it's opened my eyes and inspired me to really just comfortably stand behind my choices.
What's your style philosophy now?
I'm a total T-shirt and jeans kind of a girl. I have my staples, and then I'll dabble in little pieces to give it an extra oomph. But give me an amazing leather jacket, awesome jeans, good boots, and that's my thing. It just feels right. I'm a true believer in spending money on the essentials. My leather jacket is Acne; it's so soft and has a sort of bagginess that works both during the day and at night. My purse is a vintage Louis Vuitton, which I snagged from my mother. She bought it 30 years ago and never wore it! So I took it.
Switching gears, did you cook as a kid?
I never really cooked growing up — I maybe baked a few things — but it was never really a passion of mine. I was very active; I used to dance, I used to perform, all that stuff. For some reason in high school something changed. In grade 10 I discovered The Food Network, and it became my obsession. I came home every day from school and would just watch hours of Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson.
So while everyone else at your school was watching TRL, you were watching The Food Network?
[Laughs] Yes! They were like my superstars, making it all seem so easy and delicious. The Food Network hosts motivated me to get into the kitchen. I was obsessed with Barefoot Contessa, so I started out just putting butter on everything.
What made you apply to Le Cordon Bleu?
I liked school, but more for the social aspect. When it came time to apply for university, my dad said to me, "You seem like you really like to cook, why not go to culinary school?" I didn't even know that was an option. My parents were so supportive, to the point where my dad was like, "Why don't you go to the Cordon Bleu in England?" So I applied and I got in, and I moved to England when I was 18. When I went, in 2004, there weren't a lot of people my age doing it, and all my classmates were awesome! We'd cook together and they'd invite me to their homes and it was so great. It was a lot of growing up right off the bat, but I got to travel to a bunch of different places like Prague.
How did you end up parlaying school into a TV career?
When I graduated culinary school I wasn't quite ready to start working. So I ended up backpacking through India and Southeast Asia for a year; I lived in Israel for a year. I actually got into television when I was in India. I was volunteering at an orphanage while I was there, and they had this café that was vacant. I wanted to reopen it so that they could bring money into the orphanage. I did that and I taped the whole thing: the process of opening it and running it and working with the kids in the kitchen. My friend was randomly in India at the time, and she was the one who filmed it. It turned out to be a really cool video.
After I returned home I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do. My sister had gotten into NYU, and I was like, "Maybe I should just move to New York, too?" I randomly decided to move here and got a job at Babycakes in the Lower East Side. They sponsored me with a visa, and I got my video in the right hands. I was able to shoot a show with a woman who came into the bakery one day — she ended up becoming my business partner — and we ended up selling the show to the Cooking Channel.
Your job essentially entails cooking and eating interesting, unique foods. Were you always an adventurous eater?
My mom laughs because she says I was the pickiest eater growing up. I was so difficult, and now it's a complete joke between us. Now I cook for a living, and it's easy for me to try things. I honestly think she's really surprised I got into food.
Now you have several projects going on simultaneously. What's a day in your life like?
I'm really fortunate to be able to live in New York City. Even when I'm not shooting, I think this is the best place to be able to network and meet other people and just create amazing things. I'm very focused on social media and my blog. Normally I'll wake up, post either a recipe or a video and then I'll go do my foodie adventures. I'll be on email all day and probably collaborating with someone. I basically have a freelance lifestyle. Not one day is the same, and I love that.
How does your style change on days when you're cooking on camera?
I wish I could say I'm the type of person who thinks about what they're wearing before they cook, but I'm not. I've worn an entirely white outfit when making tomato sauce. Being on camera has changed my fashion sense a little bit because you're not allowed to wear prints or busy patterns.
What inspires you fashion sense?
My style has evolved depending on my neighborhood and the friends around me. When I first moved here I wore only skinny jeans, vintage T-shirts, combat boots and a leather jacket (I was on the Lower East Side in Manhattan). I'm still trying to figure out what version of myself I'm going to be in Brooklyn.
What are some of your favorite everyday brands?
I'm a huge fan of Zara, Rebecca Minkoff, Acne, Reformation, and Brandi Melville for jeans. I'm always searching for the perfect vintage Levi's jeans. I found a pair in Italy several years ago that I've worn to death; they've ripped all the way from my butt to my thigh, like, literally hanging by a thread. They're not wearable anymore, but I'm going to get them fixed because they make my ass look like a peach! The perfect pair of jeans will do that. I get my tops from Zara, I just think that it's great to spend extra money on the classics that you'll have forever, but the things that are more on the trendier side I will just spend less on.
That makes sense, especially when your day involves food and restaurants...
Exactly, which is why I'm much more of an accessible shopper and wearer. I went for ramen the other day with my husband, and he was like, "You just stained your shirt from slurping so aggressively." So maybe this is a sign.
You're always traveling. What's your packing strategy?
I pride myself on being the carry-on queen. I don't know why, but I just assume that I can't check a bag. I'll either wear my Adidas, my Nikes, or my boots on the plane. I wear a lot of high-waisted skinny jeans, or bell-bottoms from Reformation or Zara. And then I'll usually just bring some basic white tees.
What is next on your must-visit list?
I'm actually going to Morocco this Christmas for the first time, and I'm so excited. I have an obsession with rugs; it's actually really intense. My husband and I love Persian rugs and find any excuse to put them wherever we can. We are going to Marrakesh and will take cooking classes, eat, and shop. I also really want to experience Japan, and I'd like to go to Argentina, mostly because I'd love to eat steak and drink red wine all day. [Laughs] I travel to countries based off their culinary offerings and my appreciation of their food.
What are your long-term career goals?
I've been working on a business plan for a restaurant, but it's all about timing.
Eden's recipe for curry roasted acorn squash with yogurt
- 1 acorn squash- washed and cut into quarters or sliced - remove the seeds from the middle
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil- plus extra for drizzling on top
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 cup farro, rinsed 3 times
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, plus more for garnish
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
- fresh mint to garnish
Step 1: Drizzle olive oil onto of the acorn squash and sprinkle over the curry powder and season with salt and pepper. Make sure they are completely covered. Place in a 450 d F oven and roast on high for 25-35 minutes (depending on the thickness of the squash) until golden. Remove from the oven.
Step 2: To make the faro tabouli, place the rinsed faro in a pot- place in enough water to cover and bring to a boil. When it's boiling cover with a lid and turn it down. Let simmer for 20-25 minute until the faro is just cooked through- if there is leftover water, than strain. Add in the pomegranate seeds, pecans, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and season with salt.Mix
Step 3: On a plate, place a nice dollop of Greek yogurt and spread it out. Place the squash on the yogurt and top with the faro tabouli. Sprinkle over the pomegranate, pecans. fresh mint and lemon zest. Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and a little more olive oil and serve.