The Grub Street Diet

Fashion Designer Jill Stuart Eats Hamburger Cake, Invites Her Favorite Chef to Fashion Week

Stuart starts her day with coconut water at her home.
Stuart starts her day with coconut water at her home. Photo: Melissa Hom

Jill Stuart used to be a carnivore. “But then I watched that movie Food, Inc.,” she says, “and after that I just could not eat meat again.” An upside of her newfound pescatarianism is the chance to explore New York’s profusion of meatless restaurants. “My favorite of all is this little jewel in the East Village, Kajitsu: the preparation, the whole ambiance — it’s such a find.” Stuart presents her spring 2011 collection this Saturday at Lincoln Center, the first time in many years she hasn’t shown at the New York Public Library. “We can fit more people!” she says. “It’s great. We always had too many people and not enough chairs.” Find out how Stuart fueled up for Fashion Week in our latest New York Diet.

Friday, September 3
It was my daughter Morgan’s birthday, so I started the day at Billy’s Bakery in Chelsea to pick up their special icebox cake, and I indulged in a banana cupcake with delicious thick banana frosting, and a cup of coffee with cream. It was incredible, and a great way to start the very special day.

I actually got to go out to lunch, which I almost never get to do. Morgan and a friend and I went to the Bryant Park Grill — it was a beautiful day and we were able to sit outside and really enjoy everything. We started off with some great dishes to all share: fried calamari, some amazing burrata, and lobster rolls. Our favorite, though, was the prosciutto with figs in a sherry vinaigrette — it was simply incredible.

After lunch we headed back to the office where we all gathered around to sing “Happy Birthday” to Morgan and cut both of her birthday cakes: the icebox cake from Billy’s, and the cake that the staff bought her, which was shaped like a hamburger and was the craziest cake I’ve ever seen.

For dinner, Morgan and three of her girlfriends all took me out to Locanda Verde. We ordered the sweet corn crostini, local tomatoes with watermelon and ricotta, and the crispy artichokes with yogurt and mint. For main courses, we ordered trofie with basil pesto and arugula salad with black figs. Obviously, once again there was a birthday dessert; this time it was a budino. I had been wanting to try Locanda for months but hadn’t had the time with all of the show prep, so this meal was really special — and it was so great to be able to spend so much time with Morgan on her birthday.

Saturday, September 4
I start most days off at 8 a.m. with a coffee at home made in my Nespresso machine, adding foam with the foam-maker.

It’s pretty rare I get to leave the office for lunch, let alone twice in one week, but my 14-year-old daughter, Sophie, surprised me at the office after returning from a trip to Greece, and she took me out to lunch at Koi, which is one of our family favorites. We have our known favorites there, and that’s exactly what we ordered: the crispy rice is always a must, the rock-shrimp tempura, yellow-tail sashimi, the black-truffle salmon carpaccio, and a dragon roll. For dessert we got my favorite, mochi.

We went to my favorite restaurant for dinner, Giorgione. Our apartment is on the same block as the restaurant, and we’re there all the time. We began with the Roman-Jewish-style crispy artichokes and pomodori misti con burrata. Morgan and I shared the branzino. Afterward, we sat and chatted with [owner] Giorgio DeLuca, who is coming to the show; he’s really excited to be attending this season.

Sunday, September 5
We started working on looks for the show that morning. I got into the office and the first order of business was to order our Starbucks coffee. I had my usual venti cappuccino, and an oatmeal with all the toppings: brown sugar, raisins, cranberries, and nuts.

We had a working lunch, which is usual during show preparations. We ordered from Le Pain Quotiden, and I had an arugula salad with goat cheese. With it I had a Zico coconut water — I always have a stash of them in my office.

It was a late night working, so we didn’t order dinner until 9:30. If my assistants don’t remind me, we would just work through the night and forget to eat! We ordered from Jack’s, which is the best takeout in the garment center and a block from the office. It was a great tapas-style dinner of tuna carpaccio, bamboo-steamed veggie dumplings, cornmeal fried calamari, and grilled-shrimp salad. It was the perfect late-night dinner at the office — especially since we went until 2:30 a.m. doing looks for the show!

Monday, September 6
My daughter Morgan surprised me with a breakfast of an egg-white omelette and some fresh mixed berries. And of course I had my cup of Nespresso to start the day.

The entire design team was having a craving for Japanese, so we ordered from Haru for lunch. We order from them so much that we’re probably half their business. I had the edamame, a spicy-tuna roll, and the miso cod.

We worked until 2 a.m. again, and by the time we realized we hadn’t eaten yet, most everything was closed. Luckily Jack’s was still open, so we ordered the same as the night before. It was a fantastic dinner and we just kept working. Every second we are getting more excited for the show — it’s just a few days away!

Tuesday, September 7
I arrived at work early for an interview with NBC, and I was really in the mood for a super-fruit smoothie from the Health King. My design assistant turned me on to this place a few years ago and now we are obsessed; they make the most amazing healthy smoothies. I ordered an immune booster with blueberry, strawberry, apple, and ginger, with a shot of wheatgrass.

As usual for four days before the show, we ordered catering for the office. We use the Chef’s Agency, they’re great. It’s a nice treat for the office while we are all working such long hours to not have to worry about grabbing the menus and ordering lunch or dinner. They brought us seared flounder and lemon, salad composée, an organic raw vegetable platter, and baked potatoes à la provençale.

Dinner was another catered meal from the Chef’s Agency. It’s always such a relief — they arrive just when we start to think, Oh no! What are we going to do for dinner!? We had quinoa pilaf and vegetables, a vegetable fricassée, and a Cobb salad with avocados, mozzarella, and tomato and basil. And after the quick dinner break it was right back to work.

Wednesday, September 8
Basically all I was able to have in the morning was a coffee — barely. With half and half as always; I don’t like watery coffee. Skim milk ruins it. If I’m really treating myself, I’ll take heavy cream.

Lunch was shrimp cilantro, pad see yew — delicious flat noodles — and a mixed mesclun salad with ginger dressing.

For dinner, I had seared salmon curry, jasmine rice with stir-fried veggies, vegetarian dumplings, and then dessert was the office weakness: Baked by Melissa cupcakes. We can’t get enough of them; they’re such a treat.

Fashion Designer Jill Stuart Eats Hamburger Cake, Invites Her Favorite Chef to