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What Lilia and Misi’s Chef-Owner Missy Robbins Can’t Live Without

Photo: Evan Sung

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. We asked Missy Robbins, the chef-owner of Lilia and Misi (who collaborated on a new kitchen-appropriate jumpsuit with Tilit), about the chili-pepper paste, fragrance, and espresso machine she can’t live without.

I like heat in everything. There’s a little bit more depth in the type of chili pepper used in this paste than in others. With this, you get heat in the background, but there’s also a richness from the peppers. One of the people I used to buy all my Italian products from introduced me to this brand. I now know the flavor profile of it so well that it’s just become part of my repertoire at home and also at the restaurant. I use a lot of this paste, chili flakes, and black pepper, in my cooking.

I love reading cookbooks like some people love reading novels. I have more than 400 — it’s an occupational hazard. I just built new bookshelves, and the books are all color coded, so it’s very aesthetically pleasing. I used to buy a cookbook a week. I don’t do that anymore, but I still love them. This one I’ve had for years and years and years. It was published in 1992, the year before I started cooking, and it has been one of my go-tos since. It’s a really definitive guide to Emilia Romagna–style cooking, and was one of the first books that really helped me understand the recipes, stories, and history of regional Italian cooking. So many books today are all about photography and visuals; this has pictures, but the book’s purpose is not pretty photos — it’s about learning how to make the food. I don’t use cookbooks to actually cook, just to learn and understand. I’m still learning how to cook at home for two people, because when you work in a restaurant, you just get used to doing things in big amounts. I usually end up cooking for ten when there’s literally just two of us. I’m working on it.

My mom is a big Kiehl’s user; usually my use of anything good like this comes from her. I’ve been using this for easily ten years — once I find something I love, I don’t like to change. I’m very committed. My skin-care routine is very mild, I keep it simple. I’m outside all the time walking around, so it’s important that my moisturizer has SPF because I would never put SPF on otherwise — I would definitely forget. So this is the only way I actually get it on my face. It also keeps my skin hydrated. You get a lot of bang for your buck.

Boos wooden cutting boards are heavy-duty. That’s the best thing about them, hands down. I have other ones that are made of synthetic materials or whatever, but there’s just something very old-school about using a butcher block. I just got a new Boos board that I’m obsessed with — the really, really thick one; it’s two-and-a-half-inches thick. Aesthetically, it’s very attractive, and it’s so sturdy. It doesn’t move around a lot. The pasta tables in my restaurants are actually custom-made wood Boos boards. You want to use a wood surface for pasta-making because, for the most part, you’re just putting dough on it, not wet ingredients. I don’t allow anything wet on them, so they stay really clean. I recently had to get rid of another Boos board that I probably had for a solid 10, 15 years because it got wet on the bottom.

Before I got this, I never really wore fragrance because I don’t like anything super smelly. I use pretty neutral-smelling moisturizers and soaps and stuff like that. This is not overpowering, it’s very light. I smelled it on my friend almost two years ago, and was like, “Oh my God, you smell so good, what are you wearing?” Now people do that to me. I don’t wear it every day, but most days. I don’t like to wear a lot of stuff when I’m in the kitchen, it just interferes. It’s more when I’m out and about. I have the spray and the roller ball, but I like the roller ball the best because you can put it in very specific places. When you spray, it goes everywhere. A roller ball is more controlled.

The shape of this saucier is great for poaching eggs or sweating garlic in small batches. After I got it, it quickly became my favorite pan. I only need to cook for two at home, so this is a really great size for me. I also just love the brand. I have All-Clad pots and pans in every style: stock pots, smaller braising pans, sauté pans. I have a lot. They’re all really durable — that’s the best thing about All-Clad as a brand. I’ve probably had this specific pot for five or six years. That’s actually a very short amount of time to have a pot, so I guess it’s on the newer side.

Having comfortable shoes in the kitchen is essential; I’ve turned to sneakers over the past few years for that reason. These are the best. They’re new to my repertoire, so I only own one pair right now, but I wear them all the time. They’re just a little cushier than some of the other brands I’ve tried before. They’re really comfortable. And they look good. I mean, every sneaker nowadays kind of looks exactly the same. I hate to say it, but it’s true. So if they’re all going to have the same look, I might as well strive for comfort. I’m on my feet a lot.

I’m new to the home-coffee game — I got this machine probably two months ago — but I’m loving it so far. I make a cappuccino every morning; it’s nice to be at home and not have to go out. It’s also a really fun thing to perfect, which I am far away from doing. I think I’m getting the hang of it though. Breville products in general are made well; the brand is just kind of thoughtful in how it puts products together. Plus, it looks good. It doesn’t look like an ugly piece of machinery on my counter. This espresso machine has the perfect balance of automation and manual abilities: you can do all your own settings or you can use the default settings they give you. It’s fun to play around. And it’s not overly complicated. You don’t have to be a barista to use it.

I’m a minimalist. I don’t need to have 20 different bags. I carry this one because it’s easy. It fits a computer, has tons of pockets, is super chic, great for work, for going out; it’s just all-around great. I even use it as my carry-on when I travel. I had been eyeing it for a few years before I finally got it, and honestly it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

About two or three years ago, I saw a bunch of ads for these, and I guess they worked because I’ve been using the sheets ever since. I just bought new ones because I upgraded to a king-size bed. I’m super picky about what goes on my bed. I like everything to be really soft. I want to be super cozy, but I don’t want to sweat to death; these have that balance I like. They’re also so soft and clean-looking. I’m a clean, white-sheet type of person. My whole color palette is just kind of white and gray, which Brooklinen obviously does really well.

I started doing aprons with Tilit back in 2014. A little more than a year ago, the brand came out with its first jumpsuit. I had never worn a jumpsuit in my life before, but when I put it on, I fell in love. So we thought it would be fun to do a modified version of the jumpsuit as part of my ongoing collaboration with Tilit. I can’t take credit for designing the jumpsuit, but we definitely changed a bunch of things. We made it long-sleeve because I was freezing all last winter. But you can roll up the sleeve, so it’s still pretty functional when it’s warm out. We also did a zipper instead of buttons for a different look. We changed the pockets, so they’re a little sleeker. It’s still super utilitarian for the kitchen, but I think it looks nicer for out of the kitchen. I became that person who wore it all the time, and now it’s become a thing for people to send me jumpsuits. But I really just love my Tilit one. My mom keeps asking me why I show up everywhere in my work clothes, and I’m like, “Mom, they’re not my work clothes; they’re my everyday clothes.” I should probably send her one so she can get on board.

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What Lilia and Misi’s Chef Missy Robbins Can’t Live Without