The Grub Street Diet

Chef Nikki Cascone Eats Multiple Breakfasts and Lunches — for Two!

Nikki Cascone, at her new restaurant, Octavia's Porch.
Nikki Cascone, at her new restaurant, Octavia’s Porch. Photo: Melissa Hom

Most women try to take it easy when they’re pregnant. Not chef (and former Top Chef contestant) Nikki Cascone: She’s in the middle of opening her new restaurant, Octavia’s Porch, which should be ready for its first diners on November 29. “We’re all so fried right now, it’s laughable,” she says. “The tough part is just not being able to physically get up and hustle and cook.” So which is she more looking forward to birthing? Well, both: “Getting the restaurant up and running will be more of a relief than the excitement of having a baby.” She knows her son will be growing up in the restaurant, but vows he’ll never grow up to be a chef, like his mom: “Every single one of us from top to bottom is a little bit crazy.” Crazy or not, and even with her abundant workload, she found time to keep track of everything she ate for this week’s edition of the New York Diet.

Friday, November 12
Had my first breakfast. I mixed two boxes of my favorite cereals — Kashi Os and Cascadian Farm Raisin Bran. It’s my third trimester, so I can no longer tolerate bananas in my cereal, but I ate one on the side. Have to eat at least two pieces of fruit a day — sounds easy but it’s not!

Second breakfast was around ten-thirty. Waddled up to the corner where I live to DUB Pies. I had a decaf soy “flat white” and a breakfast pie.

Needed to shop for some items to do some menu testing, so I headed to Fairway in Red Hook. It’s one of my favorite places to eat lunch, overlooking the water and the Statue of Liberty, and it’s heated and enclosed in the cooler months. I love their chicken salad, and the cole slaw is my second favorite in New York (after 2nd Ave Deli). After shopping, I made my assistant take me over to Steve’s Authentic Key Lime because I MUST have chocolate. I love the key lime pie covered in dark chocolate. It actually sounds kind of gross, but the graham-cracker crust pulls it all together.

I started testing some new menu items, which meant I knew I’d be eating well for the rest of the day. But I fear the heartburn — every pregnant woman’s worst enemy — ahead. Grabbed a pack of Tums. We did wild-mushroom knishes, and sweet-and-savory challah bread and matzoh. I tasted for four hours and skipped dinner.

Had my first after-dinner snack: tofu ice cream (don’t knock it till you try it!) with chopped walnuts.

Then my second after-dinner snack: an organic Gala apple.

Saturday, November 13
First breakfast: the mixed cereal. I have to eat as soon as I get up.

Second breakfast. I HAD to have one of my favorites: two eggs over-medium, Swiss cheese, and turkey bacon on a whole-wheat bagel from La Bagel Delight in Brooklyn. Take it from a born-and-raised New York girl: They are the best bagels in New York. I consider it a splurge and typically have it once a week when I visit my OBGYN, who is across the street. It’s like a reward! But Saturday I just splurged because it was the weekend.

Lunch was at the Brooklyn Flea. Love it, mostly because of the food, but we also need some antiques for the restaurant. I got an egg cream from Brooklyn Farmacy, a lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound, and ate some of my husband’s fish tacos.

Dinner was at Toby’s Public House in Brooklyn, one of my regular places in my ‘hood. They have the best brick-oven pizza. I eat pizza about three times a week, minimum. My husband teases. I took some sips of his beer.

I had some orange-flavored Tums.

It’s pomegranate season, so I ate a whole, very large one. I had a bib on, of course, because not only are they messy, but pregnant women in general are clumsier.

And I ate a bag of Utz pretzels before bed.

Sunday, November 14
I LOVE SUNDAYS. On Sundays I eat whatever I want. Breakfast was whole-wheat toast, a hard-boiled egg, and a decaf soy latte.

First lunch was more eggs. (I can’t seem to have enough!) I had egg salad with lettuce and tomato. I like my egg salad with celery and red onion in it, too.

Second lunch was a big bowl of spinach-and-arugula salad with lots of trimmings — beans, pumpkin seeds, feta, tomatoes.

Dinner was at Lil’ Frankie’s in the East Village. Had one of my favorite pastas there, with tiny meatballs in it. And I had a salad, and a pizza.

Had an orange-flavored Tums and cookies and milk, another pregnancy favorite.

Monday, November 15
Back to work. Breakfast was a banana, and some toast with tofu scallion cream cheese.

I snacked on a pumpkin-seed granola bar with Greek yogurt and honey.

I headed over to Russ & Daughters for lunch and menu research. Lots of smoked fish and bialys. I’m not supposed to eat raw or smoked fish while I’m pregnant, but I do anyway.

Have lots of menu testing going on. We make gefilte fish with sustainable fish like char and wild striped bass. I felt good about my baby’s brain development, since I was eating lots of fish.

Dinner was from Kiku on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. I had spicy, crunchy salmon rolls. I always tweet when I’m eating sushi because it stirs up so much controversy from my friends and Facebook followers.

I had orange-flavored Tums and chocolate ice cream with a crunched up Brent & Sam’s chocolate-chip cookie in it. And an organic apple.

Tuesday, November 16
This was the day before our preview party at Octavia’s Porch — there was lots of cooking. I headed over armed with granola bars, mixed nuts, carob soy-milk drink boxes, and bottled water for constant snacking throughout the day. I drink anywhere from two to three gallons of water a day, not kidding.

We prepped calzones with Brooklyn ricotta and baby spinach; sautéed chicken livers with celery and red grapes; wild-mushroom knishes; sweet-potato latkes with lime crème fraîche; salmon mousse with pickled cucumbers and homemade matzoh; and red-quinoa salad with citrus, green beans, and pumpkin seeds. I like them all, in case you couldn’t tell.

After work, my two managers, my husband, and I went over to Schiller’s for a kind of an after-work soirée. I had some of my husband’s croque-madame. We also had the macaroni and cheese with bacon and some of the garlic shrimp — I love that. And the Cuban sandwich. I get that all the time there.

Wednesday, November 17
I snacked all day, and stopped to make a salad with a mix of ingredients we were prepping. Well, I had someone make it for me.

In the kitchen, I sit on a rolling chair so I can supervise everyone and stay off my feet. I ate an apple at about 6 p.m., right before guests arrived for the party.

I also had this mushroom-and-jalapeño seviche and it gave me the worst heartburn of my life — I know that’s not appealing. But I did eat a lot of that.

Chef Nikki Cascone Eats Multiple Breakfasts and Lunches — for Two!