If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. And in celebration of New York Taste, we’re going to be asking some of the 40-plus chefs and mixologists whose food and drinks will be served on October 21 about the things they can’t live without. (You can learn more about New York Taste and buy tickets here.) Here are Bill Clark and Libby Willis, co-owners of MeMe’s Diner in Prospect Heights, on their favorite body wash, and the extra-large water bottle they use to bring wine to the beach.
My boyfriend and I adopted a dog about four months after we opened the restaurant. Kate’s a fantastic dog, she’s truly the love of our lives. Super well-behaved. But the one thing — she was so, so, so awful on a leash. Like crazy, wild beast dog. So this changed our lives. It changed our relationship with our dog. The Gentle Lead wraps around their nose, so if they pull, it pulls their head to the ground, and it was immediately night and day, no training involved. Put the Gentle Lead on, she stopped pulling. And it comes in lots of colors, so you can coordinate it to the color of your dog. We have it in khaki, because our dog is white and tan.
We discovered it like a year and a half ago, and it is one of life’s true, small luxuries to have really wonderful soap in your shower. It does seem expensive, but it’s so concentrated that it lasts for a long time. And you can use it for everything. You can use it to wash hands, items of clothing, sometimes I’ll wash the dog with it if I’m feeling really extravagant. It’s just a wonderful biodegradable soap made in San Francisco. It smells like a walk in the woods. It’s like a millennial Dr. Bronner’s.
This is kind of a recent find. I had filtered through a million natural deodorants, and many of them were irritating or just didn’t work. This one is just fantastic. During a brunch service, when you’re running around for hours, or sometimes I’m on the line with Libby, and it’s 900 degrees in the kitchen, it still works. The scent is light, it doesn’t stain clothing, it does not mark me up. It’s not too floral, it’s really kind of herbal and nice.
My boyfriend found this on the Strategist. We’ve cycled through so many serums. Nothing ages you like owning a restaurant. This is one of the ones that I noticed an immediate difference. It’s super affordable, it’s easy to get your hands on, it feels great going on. I put it on in the morning, put it on before bed. Libby used to be someone I got all my products from, and now my boyfriend is my product guru.
It’s a vegetable prep knife, so it’s not a traditional chef knife. It’s Japanese. It’s a rectangle, as opposed to having a sharp tip. It’s easy to keep sharp, it’s well-made. At Chubo they list its industry prices for everyone, so there’s not a crazy markup. So you get quality for a really good price, I think. This style in particular I really like for all kinds of tasks, but especially breaking down vegetables. I wouldn’t really break down meat with it. Maybe if you were portioning but not taking meat off the bone. In the summer when we have so much produce, it’s great for raw corn and doing a fine dice.
I just love those shortbread cookies. The first time I had one was in a goodie bag from a Cherry Bombe Jubilee a few years ago. And you know, you go through a gift bag, and it’s mostly a lot of coupons, and there was this cookie. I tasted it and I was like, “Holy shit, this is the best cookie I’ve had in a really long time.” I think about what makes that cookie so good all the time. It’s got a good shelf life. You can get them now in New York at the Union Square Farmers Market, and they’re made from leftover pretzels. They grind and use a part of the dough, and then they get soaked in lye, which gives them that special pretzel flavor. And they are crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle. I can’t keep a bag for a few days, but I know that my girlfriend has hidden them so that she can have them. And I’ve found them in the cupboard after a week and a half, and they still taste good. And that’s long for a cookie.
Smoking weed is not legal in this fair state, but I would say it is one of my best menu writing companions. It’s a chic, delicate bowl, but it can also fall off a table and not break. It’s just a quality, beautiful piece of glass that somebody thought about, which I appreciate. I like when an everyday item like a bowl is thought about. And the blue is just a chic color, as opposed to the factory glass you can buy in all kind of garish and loud colors. It looks particularly good on my coffee table.
And one thing both Bill and Libby love…
Libby: I can’t live without my YETI Rambler.
Bill: You can put a bottle of wine in it, and it will stay cold at the beach for two days.
Libby: My girlfriend and I have two of them because one is for ice, and one is for cold wine. My girlfriend sells wine and drinks a ton of wine, and I, famously, don’t drink very much. She’s like, I don’t like room temperature beverages. So if we pour a nice bottle of wine to enjoy on the beach and it gets room temperature, she’s like, now you just wasted all of this wine. So, the YETI Rambler can sit in direct sunlight with the lid on and stay cold for two days.
Bill: It’s crazy. My boyfriend and I go for a week every summer to Provincetown, and the beach that we really like is like a 45-minute hike out in the salt marsh in the direct sun, and we load this thing in our backpacks, make it out to the beach, and the wine will be ice cold.
Libby: Right. It holds the whole bottle of wine.
Libby: It holds more than a bottle of wine. It’s not just a water bottle.
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