Blending inspirations, crafting stories through colors and why food is such a holistic experience.
Camille wearing our Gênes, 09h17 in a Grace Kelly way behind the wheel of a cream vintage Mercedes convertible. Behind her is the Mediterranean, in a To Catch a Thief kind of montage.
Introduced to us by our dear friend Emilie Hawtin, we found in NYC/LA chef, food stylist and recipe developer Camille Becerra a truly inspiring figure going well beyond the mere expression of food.
Cooking for cancer patients in Philadelphia, Zen monks in New Mexico or the hype crowd of 90s NYC, Camille has worked her way through very diverse scenes. A true storyteller blending Latin American roots to a New Jersey upbringing, she now brings her contemporary, conscious and holistic approach to tables across the globe where aesthetics, flavor, health and sustainability all play an equal part in delivering a complete food experience.
Opening her first restaurant - Paloma - in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 2005, she has, since then, been involved in many highly visible NYC projects such as Navy seafood restaurant in Soho, a 8-month residency at the hip Café Henrie and the whole concept and design of the De Maria restaurant in Nolita. Designing the full menu at hacienda style Casa Pueblo in Tulum, Mexico, she now works as a food stylist and food contributor, and regularly partners with high profile lifestyle brands.
Because her own words will always be more inspiring than ours, we leave you with Camille, now, in the Journal.
Hi Camille, it really is an honor being able to chat with you. Thanks a lot for this. Merci Sylvain.
You’re born in Puerto Rico and raised in New Jersey; what memories do you keep from those early days? Elizabeth was a small melting pot of immigrants from all over the world and I feel fortunate to have grown up exposed to so many different cultures. During the summers I would be sent to Puerto Rico to spend time with my grandmother. I cherish the memories of long days at the beach and going to the mountains in the center of the island to visit relatives where they would cook with ancient traditions.
How would you say it influenced what you do today? Exposure to many different cultures meant exposure to many different cuisines and I am so thankful to have experienced that diversity. I was able to eat from family recipes of my Black, Indian, South American, Caribbean, Italian, and Portuguese childhood friends.
What has been the click moment when you understood you wanted to become a chef? I knew I would like a career in food from the very first restaurant I worked at. I enjoyed the fast paced environment and social aspect, the friendships you make. I also adored going out to dine too, I wanted to connect more with food.
Would you guide us through your journey as a chef, from the many places you've worked in to how your style evolved over the years? As a young cook I worked at vegetarian establishments. As I gained more training and experience, I found myself at more traditional French brigade style restaurants. There was a stint in fine dining, then ultimately I became a chef and led a kitchen. I gathered a bit from all of my experiences and became known for menus that are vegetable focused, simple and thoughtful.
Who have been the most influential figures along the way? I’m inspired by female restaurateurs like Amy Sacco and Maguy La Coze from NYC and by Alice Waters and Susan Goin from California. They are friends and mentors in my head. I don't know them personally.
You were well immersed in NYC 90s food scene; what was the vibe back then? It was hard for a young female cook. Eventually I found safe havens, often vegetarian or woman-run and/or owned restaurants. I realized that those humble vegetarian restaurants laid a wonderful foundation for the work and style I developed later in my career.
You have a very holistic approach to food where the visual, flavor and health/feel good aspects are equally important; why do you think it talks to so many people today? Collectively we have come to understand that food is vital energy, that what we consume equates to how we feel. And also it should be fun!
How do you approach color in your work? Color combinations are fun when working on visual work and photography. Colors are also indicators of vitamins and minerals contained within food. For example red colored fruits and vegetables have antioxidants, orange colored have beta carotene, I think that is fascinating and gives the work another dimension and meaning.
Beyond food itself, your drive towards cooking came from a very social place; how do you think food could help us in finding more relevant ways of interacting with each other in the post-crisis period? I’m not sure but I do dream that we all unite to help in protecting our land through food, so that we are able to produce delicious food for all. I would also like to see more preservation of foodways passed down from our ancestors.
Beyond being a chef, you’re also a great storyteller. What makes for a great story? A good story has a little adventure! And also it’s one in which you can learn a lesson or two.
How do you approach collaborating with a brand which is not necessarily in the food universe and how do you translate their world into yours? Ultimately food and eating well is a lifestyle, that same aesthetic translates into everything you do.
You have a very unique style - that we find very inspiring to say the least - and you wear accessories in a very cool, sophisticated yet rather simple way. How would you define your style? Utility-inspired but chic. I love a mashup of sportswear and workwear and I have to have my classics (chinos and button-down shirts).
What’s your relation to scarves? My mom wore scarves and had a lovely collection of Vera scarves. It's a timeless accessory that serves a purpose. Whether it’s to protect your hair from the elements, keep it hidden on a bad hair day, or if you just need a pop of color to brighten your outfit, a scarf adds so much.
Camille wearing our Gênes, 09h17 in a Grace Kelly way in the streets of New York and behind the wheel of a cream vintage Mercedes convertible.
Who are your favorite, all-time style icons? Georgia O’Keeffe, Sade, Tracee Ellis Ross and Grace Kelly.
How would you describe LBH in 3 words? Classic, essential and chic
Who would you like to read in our next Style talk series? Creative director, Kate Berry.
Thank you so much Camille, it has been fun. I truly hope to meet up soon! In the south of France I hope! Thank you.