buvette and chef jody williams profiled on dara artisans.

Below is recent profile of  Chef Jody Williams of Buvette and the soon to be open Via Carota.

I love this layout and interview pulled from Dara Artisans Journal using our photos from the Buvette book.

Thank you Dara

Tastemaker : Jody Williams

“I never wanted a restaurant,” declares Jody Williams, chef and owner of Buvette.

She’s turned her attention to our surroundings, to the dining experience she’s coined a gastrothèque. The charmingly snug space—wooden tables are squeezed convivially together, while aproned waiters breeze by with small plates—glows in the late afternoon sun. “With restaurants—particularly in New York–you have these formalities. I hate it—it’s not good for food, and it’s not good for creativity.”

Williams’s neologism feels justified. Both in New York City’s West Village and in Paris, where she opened her second Buvette one year ago, her gastrothèques remains distinctive. A place abundant in good food and creativity, Buvette is a “collage” of Williams’ experiences living abroad, which buck expectations of what a restaurant should be.

The desire to forge connections through hand-worked, artisanal touches is everywhere, like in Buvette’s drink menu, which is filled with charming illustrations and engaging descriptions, such as how to make the perfect martini. (Created with designer Max Poglia’s help, it’s inspired by Williams’ collection of vintage chapbooks and a desire to create a dialogue with her customer). That attitude persists at the bar, where a barman pours aperitifs just under our noses—Buvette’s bar is intentionally six inches narrower than most, quite literally breaking down the distance between wait staff and patron. It’s particularly palpable at brunch, where the tight seating and mutual delight in the food forges an unheard-of camaraderie among neighbors.

“Do you want a piece of our walnut-cranberry bread?” I ask. They beamed as I passed the basket.

It’s during experiences like this that I remember one of Williams’s comments: “I’m not sure I could point you to another place that feels just like this.”

Buvette is a deeply personal place—a uniquely Jody Williams creation. Physically, there are signs of her everywhere. To scan the room is to see her assemblages of curios and bric-a-brac artfully arranged throughout the room: The wall of presidential paraphernalia is a tribute to her sister, who was born on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Williams a self-admitted collector of antiques, counting Limoges porcelain plates, latte bowls, silver teapots, glass fruit presses, vintage toys, and old bee jars among her assemblies. “I’m a character that yearns for nostalgia all the time,” she says. “I think that’s why I try and create it in my places.”



The space also channels Williams’s experiences of eating and drinking throughout Europe. Whether squeezing in shoulder-to-shoulder for cicchetti (“small bites”) in Venice or wiling an afternoon away at a vineria in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori, these experiences shaped Buvette’s philosophy of providing an outstanding gastronomic experience within a casual setting. “At Buvette, I look to do high and low, all in a comfortable, non-judgmental environment,” Williams says. “I want you to be able to get a great bottle of Champagne on one night, and croque and a beer the next.”

Her welcoming attitude—which, in Williams’ words, “offers the guest a sense of freedom to come in”—permeates the space. There’s a tangible sense of being “at home” here, which, unsurprisingly, Williams has an expression for: “It’s what I call the ‘kitchen table effect,’” she says. “When you sit here, you’re almost at your kitchen table. You see the products around, and that’s the point. So if you didn’t have a menu, you’d know there’s coffee, wine, prosciutto. We orient our guests; you feel that invitation to grab a plate, pour your water, share in the mise en place. Part of the success of something is stepping back and letting it be.”

Williams’s appreciation for an experience that feels blissfully off-hand does not mean her approach to her work is similarly casual: Williams works with tremendous intention and a shrewd attention to detail. Everything at Buvette has a place and a way: During our conversation she shares the proper method to install a toilet paper roll, opines on how to arrange glassware behind the bar, and points out why her collection of straw baskets is hung right there. When we arrived, she was up on a ladder, fussing with a light bulb. “I love to get into the minutiae of everything, from the fabric of the aprons to the menu’s paper,” she says. “I know what I want, so I tend to be very involved.”

Williams has found a formula that not only works, but one she brought to France, a concept that’s confounded many fellow chefs. With the success of the New York Buvette, plus some formative experiences and friendships along the way, Williams decided to expand to Paris’s Pigalle neighborhood. Given Buvette is a French restaurant in New York, the decision seemed both logical and risky—would the discerning French appreciate the idea? Moreover, would hergastrothèque feel as a distinct in this setting—in some ways, its native one?


The response has been a resounding yes. In Paris, Buvette feels standalone, yet for different reasons. “What Parisians love is that we’ve dropped some of the formality,” Williams says. “Where restaurants there are like, you don’t eat after three o’clock, or ten o’clock, we say, come in to Buvette anytime you’d like and eat whatever you want.”

Williams now attempts to spend several weeks in Paris every couple of months. Below, she shares her favorite spots in the city, with a focus on her newest place to call home: Pigalle.

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Jody William’s guide to Pigalle

Shop

Causses ( 55 rue Notre-Dame de Lorett) is just fantastic. They have everything: foie gras, cheese, smoked slat, green almonds and hazelnuts, fresh-squeezed orange juice, wonderful butters . . . I love it there.

I also love L’Objet Qui Parle (86 rue des Martyrs), which is nearby. It’s an old vintage flea market store. In Buvette Paris, we have a collection of vintage latte bowls in blue, all mixed and matched.

Le BHV Marais (52 rue de Rivoli) is a big department store in the Marais, and I enjoy visiting the basement there, which is a hardware store. There you will find all the materials to fix your own shoes—leather, soles, hammers—[plus] beautiful blue enamel, tons of gorgeous stuff.

Stay

I actually cannot tell you my very favorite hotel because then everyone will know about it and it’s my little secret! But the Hotel Armour (8 rue Navarini), I really enjoy, too—and it’s just around the block from us. It’s got great outdoor patio for aperitifs, and inside it’s very modern and cool.

Eat & Drink

Oh, so many. In the neighborhood, we love going to Le Pantruche (3 rue Victor Massé) or Rose Bakery (46 rue des Martyrs) for lunch. La Fontaine de Mars (29 rue Saint-Dominique) is another spot, near the Eiffel tower—the owners also visit us at Buvette. For something more “old school,” I like going to Chez Georges (11 rue des Canettes). Picture a big pot of terrine on the table with your pickle. I’ll eat some Dover sole there.

If it’s later at night, we’ll go up to Montmarte to La Mascotte ( 52 rue des Abbesses). They do these great fruits de mer, so we’ll get couple of bottles of Sancerre and some oysters and hang out. For drinks, we might head up the block toGlass (7 rue Frochot) or Dirty Dick (10 rue Frochot)—there are so many bars in Pigalle.


jim franco ceramics for dara artisans.

We have known Jim Franco for many years. First as a photo editor and then as a photographer and now as an amazing ceramicist. If you live in New York long enough you tend to see creatives move through different fields. As artists, we can never seem to sit still long enough to stay in one sandbox. We are surrounded by so much creativity that it is hard to stick to just one thing. I myself have worn many hats over the years as we tend to do in New York. I admire my peers who have branched out to explore other disciplines. Jim is no exception, though he has only been making ceramics for a short time what he has mastered is quite amazing. He is making mostly bowls at this point, in all sizes, but my favorites are those that fit snuggly into a cupped hand.  His glazes are really special, they remind me of muted stormy beach days, the kind of day that is both shimmery and dark at once. The kind of day when the light is soft and a little translucent. Perhaps it is his photographer self and his appreciation for light  and the way it hits objects that makes him such a good ceramicist.

We had a super fun day collaborating with Jim on this project.

You can see his work at the newly launched daraartisans.com

xx

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buvette. part 1. the little place with a whole lot of heart.

 


It has been a few months now since the release of the Buvette book and I am way behind in posting on the blog. I have been meaning to share some images and some out-takes from our very sweet collaboration. In the time since we shot the book, Chef Jody Williams has opened Buvette Paris, which we have yet to visit, but it is on the bucket list and she is fast at work at another West Village restaurant. How this woman manages to get so much done is a complete mystery to me! We think she is sort of magic. Below are just a few of our favorite images from the book I will post more in the next few days. There were so many great moments I can't possibly share them all but I hope you feel as inspired to eat and cook and drink as we were while working on this project. The recipes are very accessible.

 

 Thank you Jody, for giving us this amazing opportunity to collaborate with you. Thank you for always feeding us above and beyond... and thank you for trusting us with your book. Working on Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food has been one of our favorite shoot experiences ever! We heart you!

Thank you Julia Turshen for your steady guidance, contagious laughter and sweet smile through all our shoot days.

Thank you Anna Kovel for your culinary hand and your never ending determination in rooting out the perfect eggs and berries and twigs and a thousand other things and thank you Korin for biking to the market and returning with fowl in your basket!

A million thanks to all the Buvette staff and to our team for the long days and constant hustle. Thank you Max for your creativity and for always lending a hand!

 

This was a true collaboration.

 

xx

 

 

Pick up the Buvette book at the restaurant on Grove Street or here.

 

 


goodbye spring. hello summer.

Life is flying by at light speed these days. I am already feeling spring rolling into summer. What is with this crazy weather? My head is chaotic swirl of work and kid schedules. I am trying to eek out some time to just chill. The heady smell of these Lily Of The Valley, one of my favorite flowers, remind me now and then to just breathe and to take a moment to pause and appreciate.

xx

a new year

Hello friends...

It has been an interesting holiday season. I have enjoyed all your lovely posts and instagrams as of late. I was able to travel vicariously through you to some utterly gorgeous places. I have been enjoying being chill until the craziness starts again. I will soon be on the West Coast for work and the to India in early February! I have not been on instagram for the past couple weeks, as my iPhone blew out the window and down onto Broome Street in a crazy gust of wind that swirled and gushed through the loft. I know it sounds a bit like the dog ate my homework but it actually did happen. My phone was utterly vaporized. So I start today anew with my new phone totally clear of all old photos and debris. It was ninety percent backed up. What I lost I can live without and starting new and not importing anything to my new phone but my contacts feels right. I have been hunkering down and enjoying the stillness of the city these past winter days. It gave me some time to consolidate all my old straggler inspiration blogs that I started long ago. I have put everything together into one tumblr as a new place for inspiration. You can see it atwww.sometimesidrift.tumblr.com. I am hoping to keep it updated as I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of breathtaking photographs out there filling the cosmos. It is a site for the visual vagabond.

I leave you with the  sweetest wishes for the New Year. This year will be epic.

Shine brightly.

X

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where the wild things are. hello fall.

Hello friends. It's been a while and though this is not quite going to be a proper blog post, I am getting there!

It is hard to get back into the swing of posting. The last two months have been super busy with work and travel. I am not complaining, as I do love both! As soon I got back to New York, I made a visit to The New Amsterdam Market, one of my favorite city markets. Les and Nova of the Wild Food Gatherers Guild of Vermont, were there with pounds of mushrooms in all shapes, sizes and colors. I couldn't resist. I dried some and plan on making a Chanterelle vodka and a mixed mushroom ragu with the others. Those posts will hopefully be up soon. For the moment, all I have to offer are these lovely wild mushrooms from Les and Nova and some gorgeous walnuts I picked up off the ground in France. Yes, I did smuggle the walnuts back. Bad, I know. I am hoping they will make their way into a french inspired cake very soon!

Have a lovely Wednesday!

X

lunch for one. tomato and celery salad with shaved baby fennel and dill flower.

I am working from home today, and found myself making my go to summer salad for lunch. It is super similar to theone I made a few weeks back but tastes surprisingly different with just a couple substitutions. There really is no recipe, it is just thrown together based on whatever I had in the house. I can't seem to get away from this tomato celery combo this season... it is so good! This salad was a melange of  tiny summer tomatoes. I picked up a couple of mixed quarts of them at the Union Square Green Market along with some fresh dill flower, baby fennel and my favorite red celery. I went to my trusty mandolin for perfectly thin celery and fennel. It is my favorite kitchen tool hands down.  I have a really good French mandolin but I prefer a simple Japanese one (I use one fromMUJI) I use it through all the seasons! You can also find nice Japanese ones at a Japanese hardware store or a Japanese Mart.  I hope you are inspired to get the Greenmarket and make a version of this salad. Add a little fresh goat cheese if you would like to make it a bit more substantial.

x

Lunch For One ; Tomato and Celery Salad with Shaved Baby Fennel and Dill Flower.

A 1/2 quart of mixed cherry tomatoes

One stalk of red celery ( I used the nub end as all my celery was previously devoured.)

One baby fennel bulb

A couple sprigs of fresh dill flower

Juice of half a lime

Good Extra Virgin olive oil

crunchy sea salt

METHOD

Chop the tomatoes into halves or quarters depending on size

Shave the celery over the tomatoes with the mandolin

Shave the fennel bulb over the celery with the mandolin

Add the sprigs of dill

Squeeze the 1/2 of lime over the salad

Douse with some extra virgin olive oil

Top off with a little crunchy seas salt and toss the whole salad.

EAT. SMILE. EAT SOME MORE.