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 hair spray and the electric toothbrush. We asked Mina Stone, the chef of Mina’s Restaurant and author of the new cookbook, Lemon, Love, and Olive Oil, about the sandals, lipstick, and frying pans she can’t live without.
I always felt resistant to lemon squeezers — until I learned how to use them. I would put the lemon in the wrong way with the cut side facing upward because that’s what made the most sense to me, but the right way is actually to put the cut side facing down toward the bottom. If you do that then it really gets a lot of juice out. Squeezers strain out the seeds and don’t get juice on your hands, which can be irritating and drying. I put lemon on everything and now I use this tool every time.
Although I love wearing lipstick and I love when the lipstick sort of matches my outfit, because I’m a chef, I find lipstick really stressful. When I’m at work, I am trying things and eating a lot of the time, which means I either can’t wear lipstick or it’s just going to come off immediately. But not this stuff. I don’t know what’s in it, but it never comes off. I can put it on in the morning, work all day, and it doesn’t come off until I decide to take it off.
This is actually what I use to remove my Revlon lipstick, since it gets it off really fast without drying out my lips. In the winter, I also use it on my son if he has some dry skin or eczema. And I keep some in my downstairs drawer for after I wash my hands, which, for a cook, is all the time.
I talk about this a lot in my book because I use so much of it, both on my body as a moisturizer and on my food. It’s such a big part of my life. I know people say not to fry with olive oil, but I always fry with olive oil. I think that you can do that with a good brand of olive oil that’s not over the top expensive. We have really special olive oil that we bring in from Paros at the restaurant, but this is the one that we have in my house. It’s my everyday oil. It’s a really big canister, so I think a normal person could probably get like six months out of it, but we go through it in a couple of weeks. It’s a really high quality for a really good price. Because it’s cold pressed and made from fully sun-ripened Greek olives, it has a very clean fresh taste and smell. It’s great stuff.
About 15 years ago, one of my best friends, who used to work at Housing Works, got me a used set of these pans in three different sizes. I still use them every single day. They are very straightforward nonstick frying pans that you can use for absolutely everything. This is the size that I use the most, and it’s one of those things where I look at it and I’m like, You are so worth it; you have lasted for so many years.
When I was a little kid, Greece always played a big role in my life. It was my other home, so I have a strong connection to the products that are made there. That’s especially the case with sandals. It’s hard to find high-quality mid-range simple leather sandals in the United States, so whenever I am in Greece, I always head to Monastiraki Square to get some. They are great quality, very affordable, and, in my opinion, très chic. Fortunately I also found sellers that offer them on Etsy and ship to the U.S., which was a dream come true. They’re a very happy price, anywhere from 20 to 40 euros. When you put them on, the leather molds to your feet and it just feels like you’re wearing air.
I grew up going to this island called Aegina, which is the closest island to Athens. At first, my yiayia and great-aunts just vacationed there, but then my yiayia lived there full-time for the last 15 years of her life. Along with its pistachios, the island is known for all the fragrant herbs and olives that grow there, so I was really, really excited to see this local company making traditional soap using the Aegina’s olive oil and herbs. The scents are really refined. When you have them in your bathroom they fill the room with scent. The germanium-and-red-clay soap is my absolute favorite.
This adds the perfect amount of definition to my eyebrows, and the brush is really handy. You can use it to lift your brows and smooth them, and the gel doesn’t get anywhere else besides the eyebrow. I use dark brown, but it’s so easy to control the amount of color that goes on that you actually have a whole range of shades you can apply. You can give yourself a really light coat for barely there definition, or you can go over it again as much as you want to get a darker brown.
I know this is a best seller, and I had seen it all over the place, but it wasn’t until my cousin had a copy that I ended up reading it. As soon as I started, I couldn’t put it down. As the title indicates, it’s really informative on how the body reacts to and stores memories and experiences. Anything that helps you understand people better or have compassion for people in different situations is important, I think. I found it really illuminating in that way. After reading the book, when someone’s being an asshole, I can say: Hold on a second. I have a little more information now about how bad things play out in people’s lives and become a part of their character.
I was actually in Greece when I wrote this list, which is why so many things are from there. I bring these towels back to New York and use them all throughout the year because they are really-good-quality cotton. They absorb all the water and then they dry really fast. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, but I feel like in a New York city apartment, sometimes in the winter, a wet towel doesn’t get as dry as you want it to, and the propensity for things getting that moldy-smelly situation is high. But not with this cotton towel.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.