My story continued ...
STITCHING: Inspired by my surroundings, the light and season, nature's textures and color palette, I bring together scraps of fabrics in a free-form quilting style all my own. When I am creating a carry-all bag or placemat, I become absorbed in my work in the same way I did as a painter. My stitched creations are works of art that are meant to be worn and used. And, most importantly, they are made by hand, my hands.
How I got here ...
I first learned to cook alongside my Viennese grandmother who catered parties for San Francisco “high society.” My grandmother instilled in me, as we catered, the discipline of patience and process, modesty and simplicity. She taught me how to properly sauté mushrooms until caramelized and golden; how to make the perfect blintz; how to whisk heavy cream for profiteroles and chocolate sauce; how to make Duck a la Orange and osso buco. And she taught me the original meaning of “schlepping,” as she would drag her cart on foot around San Francisco's Richmond neighborhood to collect all her fresh ingredients.
In 1981, after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of California, Santa Cruz, I returned to the Bay Area and began my hands-on "graduate training" in the Berkeley "gourmet ghetto." After many years of learning from Café Pastoral to priceless advice and encouragement from Alice Waters and others at Chez Panisse to China Moon in San Francisco, I was inspired to take a leap and open my own San Francisco restaurant in 1989—Cityblock—to immediate critical acclaim. In 1993, I left the restaurant world to relocate to Durham, North Carolina. In between raising two sons, I ran a catering business and ultimately blended my passions for food and gathering loved ones around a table into the business Sacred Table, creating locally sourced, prepared meals for people to enjoy in their homes, garnished by their own traditions and rituals. In 2017, I moved to Boston’s South End, and here, I am thrilled to be bringing you Ilana and Co.
Why Ilana and Co.?
Ilana and Co. is meant to be unique, original, and about the products only I can create—whether it be my signature scones or my wild quilted textile placemats. Everything I make for Ilana and Co. is made up and mixed up and stitched up by me, Ilana.
And why “and Co.”? The company I keep is very important to me. Literally, around the dinner table, at meals, in my home, with food, with place settings—welcoming friends and family is the centerpiece of a good life to me. And I also know, in addition to the company I keep, I stand on the shoulders of all the mentors (my grandmother, my father) and businesses (Cityblock, Sacred Table) that have brought me to this point, influences that have kept me company and still do.