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What Sophia Roe Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Courtesy of Sophia Roe

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 James Beard Award–winning chef and food-justice advocate Sophia Roe — who recently partnered with Bombas on a collection of socks — about her “magical” pimple patches, trousers she wore on Drew Barrymore’s show, and toothpicks she always has on her.

I’m a bit of a pimple picker. But, if I cover it, it’s like it’s not even there. I do not leave the house without these pimple patches. There are so many different types now, but these really, really work. It doesn’t matter where the zit is: On your forehead, the middle of your cheek, or those weird nose pimples. These have worked on every single one. Ideally, I put them on overnight, but even after two hours they’ll make pimples less red or raised. I don’t know what’s in them, but they’re magical. My boyfriend uses them now too. And I actually just bought my assistant, Dani, a pack because these are so amazing. Everyone should have them.

I am very lean when it comes to skin care. Some people do, like, 650 steps, but I’m more like a three-step gal. I use this mask at least twice a week. I struggle with dermatitis, particularly around my mouth, and it’s like night and day with this. The redness decreases by half, and my skin looks vibrant. It’s also good since I live in New York, where the air quality isn’t great. I’ll come home after being out all day and my skin’s irritated from the heat or looking crepey. This makes my face look like I just woke up. I also use it right before getting my makeup done for shoots or shows. It’s non-irritating and doesn’t have actives that’ll burn my face. It’s amazing.

Oh, this is the best olive oil. There are two varieties. One is more mild and great for a salad dressing or just cooking in general. The other has a bolder and herbaceous flavor. It’s what I’d want to dip bread in. We always have these in the studio. I’m actually looking at the bottles now. They’re opaque, which is very important. It keeps your oils out of the sun. But also, they are gorgeous. It makes your home look as beautiful as the oil tastes. I also like that they provide the harvest date and lot number, which lets you know how fresh it is and where it’s from. The lot number also means it’s single origin — all the olives used are from the same place. I’m kind of a nut when it comes to supply chains. I geek out on it.

Sana, the founder of Diaspora, is the most amazing woman. She has talked to people in the spice trade about what a high-quality spice is and what they’re paying their farmers. Most are paid literal pennies on the dollar. She’s really open about paying the farmers Diaspora works with an average wage and showing where the spices come from. People don’t realize that, for instance, one jar of cinnamon can come from 30 or 40 different farms. Everything Diaspora offers is single origin. There’s even a sourcing map on the site. When you’re using a spice, you can look up the lot number and know exactly where it was grown and even who the people are on the farm. You can feel really connected to not just the product itself but the humans who made that product possible. I probably use cinnamon, peppercorns, and coriander the most.

This is the best kitchen tool ever. I have quite a few with different grates — even one specifically used for ginger. I got that one from a hardware store. But it’s such a versatile tool. It’s good for garlic, zest, cheese, even nuts. I can’t imagine being in my kitchen without it. I use it every single day.

I know people are usually like, “Ugh. Do I have to use a scale?” You don’t have to, but when you’re baking, it really makes such a difference. For me, a lot of times I’m baking at scale for an event, so it helps with precision. Like, recently I had to make ice cream for 45 people, and this was necessary. But even if you’re not cooking at a scale like that, this helps you create no waste. I really think that people should look at a scale from that perspective. I would say that’s almost more important than having your product come out perfectly.

I’m not a matchy-matchy person. I like Collina Strada because everything looks really original. Like you made it yourself, but refined. Hillary, the designer, is a wildly imaginative human being, and I just love the way her brain works. I also love the fabric choices, because there’s a lot of sustainability and repurposing in mind. I need to be able to flow and move around in my clothes. Their trousers are so comfortable and fit me perfectly. I’m five feet five, and they hit exactly where they should. Us girls under five-ten always have to get things hemmed, but that isn’t the case with these. I’m wearing the yellow ones with puppies on them right now. I wore them for Drew Barrymore’s show, actually.

I think my T-shirts are probably the thing I’m asked about most. And I’m like, “Girl, I spend hours on Etsy.” Usually, when I’m blow-drying my hair or doing something passive, I go deep on vintage tees. Some people are into bags or shoes, but this is my thing. I’m one of those nerdy music people, but with vintage T-shirts. I’ve cried before — I’m not even kidding — over finding the right one … like an original Kraftwerk tee from 1985 or a Liliput Kleenex tee from 1996. I just recently got a 1991 MTV shirt. I think the most I’ve spent on one is $300. They’re usually an investment piece, but I make sure to wear them. Sometimes they’re not in the most perfect condition, so I’m mindful about how I wear them and how often. They mean a lot to me. I probably have hundreds of them.

Okay, so I’m a cook with a lot of gaps in my teeth. I have major tooth gaps and get food stuck in my teeth a lot. So naturally, this became a signature Soph thing. I always have a toothpick, whether it’s near me or in my mouth already. Also, I’m a nail biter, so this became a cool thing to distract me from that hand-mouth fixation. I can’t think of a moment that isn’t appropriate to have a toothpick. If I could walk down the Met Gala red carpet with a toothpick in my mouth, I would.

I first became curious about Bombas because of its one-to-one donation model. I myself grew up super food insecure and have experienced homelessness in my life. When you’re talking about someone who’s experiencing food insecurity, they’re probably also unable to access other necessary essentials. And we’re not talking jackets, sheets. We’re talking the basics: T-shirts, underwear, socks. Because I came from that demographic as a child, I’m always thinking about it in my work. So doing this with the brand was a dream come true. My team and I gave away hundreds and hundreds of socks, which wouldn’t be possible without that model.

As for the socks themselves, the Aloe ones are inspired by vintage skaters. I’m obsessed with that aesthetic. I love the vintage high-sock stripe pattern. It also kind of mirrors my studio, Apartment Miso, which has stripes painted on the walls. The lavender ones say “Hi, I love you.” I’ve been saying that since I was really little. I think it was initially just to make people smile or laugh, but it’s become a thing I say regularly. Most of the time a person in need doesn’t just require clothing or food. They really need a pick-me-up. That was also the idea behind adding that phrase. It’s on every pair of socks, and hopefully people see it and it just makes them smile.

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What Sophia Roe Can’t Live Without