The New York Diet

Fashion Designer Yigal Azrouël Cooks Like His Mom, Even If She Doesn’t Believe It

Yigal Azrouël with a cappuccino at 10 Downing.
Yigal Azrouël with a cappuccino at 10 Downing. Photo: Melissa Hom

Designer Yigal Azrouël just returned from a restful beach vacation in Costa Rica — the perfect preparation for the hectic days leading into next month’s Fashion Week. The designer will debut looks he conceived last September, 80 percent of which were produced here in the garment district. “I have much more control of how I see the products,” he told us. Azrouël, who ran his first marathon last year, starts days with 6:30 a.m. visits to the gym, and loves to cook. Though he denies past involvement with Katie Lee, he does admit taking someone along with him to the beach. So, ladies, the closest you’ll get to one of his Moroccan dinner parties is reading this week’s New York Diet.

Friday, January 8
I cooked an amazing dinner on Friday night. I cooked dinner for six people in my house, mostly Moroccan traditional food: eggplant salad, red-beet salad with cilantro — my mom gave me the recipe, which I really love — tomato-and-bell-pepper salad with onion and garlic. We also ate Moroccan-style fish: salmon with chickpeas and different kind of spices that I get at Kalustyan’s. I also made roasted chicken, and I baked potatoes with rosemary and olive oil. We drank mostly red wine. My friends got us dessert from a place in Brooklyn: French macarons and a lemon tart. And I did a strawberry fruit salad with apples, bananas, nuts, lemon, and orange juice, and cinnamon, and made a Moroccan fresh mint tea. It’s very traditional. You use fresh mint leaves with hot water and serve it on a special tray with beautiful stained glasses. And you pour it from very high. That was a big dinner. Then we all played backgammon; I played the winners, and I won! I love that game; I play it all the time when I’m with my friends and I kick everybody’s ass.

I learned how to cook growing up in a big family. My mom is an amazing cook so I kind of got it from her. She still doesn’t believe that I cook because when I try to cook for her, she still doesn’t let me do it. But I get recipes from friends and my sisters, who are great cooks. When I cook, I don’t really know what I’m going to cook — I’m kind of experimenting — but it comes together really well.

Saturday, January 9
I had to wake up really early to go to the gym; 8 a.m. for a Saturday is early. My trainer was waiting for me and he kicked my ass that day. I work on my stomach, my arms, a lot crunches and kicking, and a little bit of legs. My trainer is Brazilian so does a lot of capoeira movements, which is very hard since I’m not used to those moves. That’s what I’m working on to get into good shape. I’m going snowboarding Saturday; to get ready for the season I got all new stuff. I go to Hunter [Mountain], just for the day.

I had my breakfast after. That day, I made a smoothie, with papaya, banana, ginger, and honey, and put ice in it to make it cold. And I had black coffee.

For lunch, I was picking on leftovers, which was a lot of food — salads and things — while listening to music and relaxing. One of my closest friends, Erez, made a new playlist. It’s a mix of reggae and old French music like Serge Gainsbourg. I was very mellow.

For dinner, I went to Bond Street and had miso soup, seaweed salad, tuna sashimi, spicy tuna, crispy shrimp, and green-tea ice cream. I went with my friend Adi.

Sunday, January 10
For breakfast, I just made myself a pineapple-and-banana smoothie, and had a coffee, of course.

For lunch, I was working, so I came to the office around 10:30 a.m. because I had to get ready to shoot my men’s collection for buyers, like a look book. I ordered split-pea soup and a schnitzel wrap from Schnitzel. My office is on 39th Street between Seventh and Eighth.

For dinner, I came home a little late so I just ate the leftovers from Friday. The fish was delicious; I remember eating it. I cook often and always have people over at my place and hanging out.

Monday, January 11
I had coffee and a whole-wheat bagel with cream cheese from Starbucks.

For lunch, I ordered a tuna sandwich from Prêt A Manger with whole-wheat bread, lettuce, and tomatoes.

I got home really late from working all day and just made myself a salad with vegetables and a dressing of olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.

Tuesday, January 12
I made an omelette at home, very simple, with salt, pepper, and had a whole-wheat English muffin with butter. And yes, coffee, always coffee. I don’t wake up without coffee. My trainer canceled, so I skipped my workout and went the next day.

For lunch on Tuesday I ordered eggplant lasagna from Pomodoro. They send some really delicious bread and butter with it, and I had a Diet Coke.

I was working late and went to Whole Foods for groceries and bagels and things, but because I was picking during the day — power bars and stuff — when I came home I just had an apple. I didn’t really eat.

Wednesday, January 13
For breakfast: black coffee and a toasted bagel with cream cheese. I meet my trainer at 6:30 in the morning, sharp. I run for fifteen minutes and then work my stomach, my arms, my legs, and do some stretches.

For lunch, I ordered a panini with mozzarella and vegetables from Metro Café. I always bring some stuff in as well. The director of the company actually made an amazing granola bar. I remember going in and picking. It was really good. And I had an orange, too.

For dinner, I ate some of the leftovers from Friday because it was still good and I came home really late — hummus and bread, just dipping. I make it sometimes, but I didn’t make this one.

Thursday, January 14
And this morning I had granola cereal with coffee.

For lunch at 10 Downing: halibut with couscous and lemon-and-fennel salad, and a side of truffle fries.

I’m still working, so I don’t have a plan for dinner. I’m spontaneous.

Fashion Designer Yigal Azrouël Cooks Like His Mom, Even If She