The first time I met Julia and Brian I was a friend's guest at a brunch of over 20 people. The two kept everyone's glass full, while all the guests got to work in every corner of the spacious kitchen preparing their own entrees to share. Both talented photographers based in Chicago, this couple's visual inclinations don't stop at photography; much of their creativity is visible in their beautifully decorated loft.
The pair spent long hours transforming their home from a bare bones, neglected space into a chic live-work studio just west of the busy Wicker Park neighborhood. Their kitchen updates resulted in a spacious room with clean lines and stylish accents. Open shelving shows off simple, white dishes and original artwork. The studio is open without dividers, letting the dining room share the same area, which is perfect for entertaining.
During my last visit we shared refreshing summer cocktail and a delicious plate of ebelskievers (a Stotz family tradition) while they shared some of their favorite kitchen stories with me.
10 Questions for Brian and Julia (and Their Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Our friends and work inspire a lot of our cooking. Brian came back from a shoot one day with pounds of cilantro and we didn't want it to go to waste but didn't know what to prepare with that much of it. That inspired us to make a spicy cilantro pesto and it is now one of our favorite dishes we make constantly.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Our ebelskiever pan is pretty special.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
We had a pot luck brunch with over 20 of our friends, and people ended up cooking in our space, all crammed around our table, and everyone came with super unique dishes. It really felt like our kitchen got used and loved that morning!
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
That dishes don't clean themselves.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
We had to build out the whole kitchen on a budget when we moved into our studio, and we seem to make it work pretty well. A kitchen window would be great though.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
Great tea, honey and quality coffee beans.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
A dishwasher would be nice one day.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Light, fresh, yet still comforting. Lots of greens, full of citrus and savory flavors.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Don't burn the garlic...
10. What are you cooking this week?
After being in California for three weeks and splurging on many amazing restaurants and fresh fruit, we are on a homemade veggie kick. We will probably make tea leaf salad, sautéed kale, black bean and avocado tacos, and oatmeal full of nuts, seeds, and fruits.
Honey, Tea and Coffee Resources
- BeeBOP Chicago Honey - made in Chicago by the food stylist, Kelly McKaig, and only available when her bees are producing!
- Assi Plaza in Niles for jasmine, genmaicha, or sencha teas, David's Tea for unique herbal blends (Licorice Twist, Forever Nuts, and Ginseng Oolong), and Teagschwendner for black teas!
- Dark Matter and Ipsento are our favorite local coffee roasters.
Thank you so much for letting us peek into your kitchen!
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(Images: Lucy Hewett)