Julie Morelli and Andy Schwegler are the witty and creative minds behind Chicago based print shop Nourishing Notes and boutique design firm Letterform. Their mission is simple, "We believe there's nothing better than food, family, friends, and laughter." The two met in in design school and have been together for ten years, and married for two. A truly collaborative pair, they share a business, home and love for cooking.
I was so excited to be invited to brunch where the couple divided and conquered to cover the table with warm, homemade bread, muesli and a delicious frittata. Our friend designer, Valarie Craig, joined us for a sunny, mid-day meal which truly paid testimony to the company's philosophy.
Light and color fill the kitchen with a bright, happy feeling. Even during Chicago's dreary winters it doesn't require extra lamps. The room is thoughtfully decorated and designed without feeling immaculate. The simple, functional layout leaves room to get one's hands dirty. Which is exactly what they do.
Pasta and beer making tools fill the shelves making it apparent what the couple's "passion projects" are. "Pasta is favorite of ours. We love to make our own." Andy is currently working on a brew that will take six months to ferment, but will undoubtedly be worth the wait.
The kitchen is full of "Julie's artifacts," but feels curated rather than cluttered. They make good use of the small space by using tall, open shelving (the better to examine the artifacts) and their style incorporates old and new. Mid-century chairs surround the kitchen table, sleek and modern bar stools sit at the counter, accented with bright letterpress prints and bold colored appliances and dishware. Jars of specialty jam, hot sauce, honey and other goodies sit on just about every shelf; the result of many travels and trades with foodie friends. With all the traveling and new places and faces these two encounter, I can't wait to see what will been added to the shelves when I return.
9 Questions for Julie and Andy (and Their Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
J: I would say our travels and our family. I often use my family cook book. Also sometimes we try to recreate dishes that we've had from our travels. Usually something that we pick up or an ingredient that we get.
A: When we were in Greece we got caper leaves and candied pistachios so we're trying to figure out what to make with those.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
J: For me it's two things: the Le Creuset dutch oven and a wooden spoon.
A: The cast iron skillet. I love that thing.
3. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
J: The tiny oven, for sure! When we came to look at the apartment, that was the first thing I noticed that was a "No, no." And I when we came back to look at the apartment for a second time, I brought back the measurement for my cookie sheets. I asked to measure the oven, and I had a bit of a panicky moment when I realized the cookie sheets weren't going to fit in the oven. We're fine now. We got new cookie sheets.
A: I would say counter space. When both of use are cooking usually some one ends up working at the kitchen table, prepping something.
4. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
J: Normally you wouldn't do something like this (because we rent), but when we first moved in I told my parents I wished we had more counter space. During a visit my dad took some measurements, but I didn't think he was really serious about it. Next time he shows up, he has a custom made extended counter top for us.
5. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
A: Coffee is a big splurge for us. We always buy really expensive coffee.
J: The food processor is a big ticket item, but has proved to be worth it.
6. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
A: Move to a bigger kitchen.
J: I'm just trying to keep the clutter down.
7. How would you describe your cooking style?
J: Very different between the two of us. Very different. I could open of the refrigerator, see that we have three ingredients and at least be able to put food on the table.
A: I can't do that.
J: Andy will pour over recipes, look online and if we don't have every ingredient it's a panic.
A: It's because I'm not as confident in the kitchen so I'm worried it's not going to taste right. But I'm getting better!
8. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Never apologize for your cooking.
9. What are you cooking this week?
A: Fresh pasta, plus a sauce we haven't figured out yet.
Our Brunch Menu
Kale and leek frittata
Resources of Note
Coffee - Ipsento
Food Processor - KitchenAid
Dutch Oven - Le Creuset
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Related: Tara's Hardworking Writer's Kitchen