Meet Diana Yen

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Diana Yen leads the multidisciplinary creative studio, The Jewels of New York, where she explores the connections between storytelling and food with her team. Her cookbook, A Simple Feast, features her work as a food stylist that also includes recipes and stories that she has collected over the years.
 
  Top, Pleats Please ;   Pants, Vintage
  Jeans: Madewell, Denim Vest: Lee, Sweater: Zara

Jeans: Madewell, Denim Vest: Lee, Sweater: Zara

ON HER MORNING ROUTINE

On most days when I’m rushing, I’ll have a green smoothie and Stamba Super Vitamin on my way out. If it’s a chill day, then I love making a full breakfast. Anything with eggs counts as a full breakfast for me. Baked eggs are my favorite weekend meal, and I often make a big pan of them for a crowd. Spring Strata and Spring Pea Frittata with Goat Cheese & Mint are some of my favorite recipes.

on getting her start in design and food

I’m originally from San Francisco, which is where I went to school for art and design. I moved to New York to work at home and furniture design companies like Aero and Target. I was recruited through teachers and local furniture companies. I love anything to do with the home, from designing to cooking.

I’d always cook big dinner parties with friends, and many of them are editors at magazines. They asked me to work on recipes and food styling, and then I eventually transitioned to food.

on creating a recipe book

I was inspired by Gourmet Magazine and its idea of storytelling around food. When I first moved to New York, I’d go apple picking in the fall and make recipes with what I picked. I wanted to share those stories with people.

I put together all my recipes and stories into a book called A Simple Feast. I shopped it around for a few months, and to my surprise, it was well received. I worked with a literary agent to finalize the deal, which was helpful.

If I had to do something differently, then I’d shoot the entire book in a week as opposed to dragging it out over months. I think it gives a more unified look when shooting back to back.

  Trench, Yang Li Men ; T-Shirt, Vintage ; Choker, Vintage YSL ; Pants, Sonia Rykiel

on her tools preparing for a project

I use chef knives and tweezers. I love JB Prince for cooking equipment and utensils, and I go to a few prop rental companies, like Prop Haus, for tabletop items. I look for inspirational images of dishes, usually on Pinterest and Instagram, when I need ideas on set for styling. Then everything is all set up at my test kitchen, so it’s nice to work there.

some advice for creatives

My advice for someone trying to break into food styling or the creative side of food is to assist your favorite stylists and be persistent, like making your Instagram shine. Spend time looking up people that inspire you, and send an introductory email showing that you are well informed about the work, then keep checking in. My support comes from other female business owners like Jade of Creatures of Comfort and the ladies at Cherry Bombe, who I met through friends and colleagues. Female business owners in New York like to get together and support each other which is great.

on her shopping habits

I love Creatures of Comfort, Zara, and COS. After starting my business, I had to be conscious about spending. Most of my friends work in fashion, so we do lots of trades. Most of my furniture pieces have been accumulated from my travels. I love Merci in Paris, flea markets, and ABC Home in New York.
 

  Dress: COS, Shoes: Creatures of Comfort

Dress: COS, Shoes: Creatures of Comfort

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It’s important to carve space for yourself every day. I bring a vape when I’m out so it’s easy to smoke pot when I want to chill. Everyone’s into CBD oil and tinctures, so I use those too.
— on self-care tips
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  Dress: COS, Shoes: Creatures of Comfort

Dress: COS, Shoes: Creatures of Comfort

on creative rituals

I enjoy cooking for friends and loved ones. It makes my work better in the long run. I also do yoga a few times a week at Sky Ting, and I love the Headspace meditation app. I use it all the time when I’m waiting for a friend or on the subway. I drink lots of tea as well. Mariage Freres Tea in Paris is an amazing shopping experience, and Bellocq tea in Brooklyn is also fun.

on her beauty routine

I use natural beauty products, and I love face oils because they also remove eye makeup. Vintner's Daughter is amazing. My friend at Wildcare makes the best sage hydrosol. I spritz it on myself when I need refreshment. When I don’t wash my hair, I use Ouai Dry Shampoo to keep it smelling nice.

I recommend Herbivore Botanicals Rose Face Mist, PRNCPLS Charcoal Toothpaste, Wildcare Soft Focus Coconut Milk MaskFrench Girl Organics Rose Lip Polish, and Le Labo Women's Gaiac 10

on her nightly routine

I make myself a ginger tea to aid digestion. Then I usually share a joint with my girlfriend before heading to bed.

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Cleo is the cutest angora bunny. Her personality is like that of a dog. She follows me around everywhere! Much like any other pet, you’ve got to proof your home because bunnies chew on everything.
— on having a bunny
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diana's FAVORITE BOOKS

Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook by Clarkson Potter, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis, The Captain's Verses by Pablo Neruda, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton

diana's favorite movies

I Am Love, Pulp Fiction, Annie Hall, The Shining

diana's favorite places IN new york city

Dimes for lunch

Okonomi for a minimal Japanese breakfast

The Met's Egyptian wing

The Brooklyn Bridge promenade

Paintbox for nails

Eataly for food shopping

  Dress: Zara, Coat: Form Vintage

Dress: Zara, Coat: Form Vintage