Meet and Eat: Cleo von Siebenthal, Serious Eats Editorial Intern
Editor's note: Give a warm welcome to Cleo, one of our fall editorial interns. The FIT student grew up around the world, so she's got a serious palate we can't wait to tap into!
Name: Cleo von Siebenthal
Location: New York
Occupation: Nomadic fashion student and eater.
Guilty pleasures? There's something about spaghetti bolognese from hotel room service that always seems to hit my soft spot. Due to my father's job, I grew up living in almost 10 different hotels around the world. The hotel he works for has worldwide standard recipes for their spaghetti bolognese, so whenever I'd move to a new place, I would order spaghetti bolognese to soothe my homesickness. Another one of my guilty pleasures is the NYU dining hall. My friend sneaks me in and we use his swipes to hook ourselves up with countless meals. I truly don't understand why students complain about NYU dining hall food. The Palladium flatbread pizzas are very tasty.
Describe your perfect meal. Restaurant hopping. Why eat at one place if you can eat at five or six?! Chinatown is the perfect place to do that. Char siu rice at one place, pork and chive dumplings at another, hand-pulled noodles at another, and egg tarts at yet another. Now that's what I call a meal.
What food won't you eat? I'm far from a picky eater. Moving around the world meant that I always had to tweak my palate. The more exotic, the more inclined I am to dig in. That being said, there is one exception: Balut. I just can't get myself to eat a duck embryo.
Favorite food person? Anthony Bourdain. I would expand on why I love him so much, but that would result in red cheeks and a pounding heart. I guess you could say I'm a bit obsessed. Anthony, if you ever read this: ...*faints*
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? It has always been a known fact amongst my family and friends that I can eat...a lot. I was always that awkward kid who ordered steak tartare and foie gras over chicken nuggets and fries. I was also that kid who waited until everyone was done eating, spitting out the classic, "Awwww, it would be such a shame to waste that!" line before digging in to my friend's half-eaten plate of pasta. But I've only trulycome to realize my passion for food after moving to New York City. One of the perks of growing up in hotels was that we would order our groceries through the hotel's kitchen. Coming to New York City meant that I had to actually come face to face with my grocery options, and that's been a big challenge—I have zero self control. Learning to cook has definitely intensified my relationship with food.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? My parents are perfectly aware of the fact that they are the reason my stomach is a bottomless pit. My mother has a very unhealthy habit of over-ordering and over-cooking—it's an Asian thing. My dad is a hotelier and trust me, he knows his food. My brother's appetite is almost as impressive as mine. He came to visit me in the spring and we stuffed ourselves silly for 10 days straight—lunch at five different restaurants was a given.
Favorite food sites or blogs? To feed my constant hunger for food-related news, I turn to Serious Eats (obviously), Grub Street, Eater NY, Foodiggity, and First We Feast. For recipes, Yummly is my soulmate. I also constantly find myself scrolling through #foodporn pictures on Instagram, especially right before I go to sleep (it's a terrible idea. Don't do it).
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? One of my best friends from my high school in Dubai, Vinay, has always been my munching companion. Lucky for me, he also happens to go to school here in New York, so I always turn to him whenever I feel like going on an eating escapade. I like to think of him as my private Zagat guide.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? I'm a big luncher, purely because I get the whole day to digest ridiculous amounts of food. I have a rule of never going to the same restaurant twice (of course, there are exceptions), so I can't really pinpoint a specific place that I head to.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? Cook? Me? The kitchen is my haven. Ma Po tofu and spring rolls are my specialities. I've noticed that my meals get more creative as the end of the week approaches and I have to work with what's left in the fridge. I overestimated what I needed to bake a batch of fall-esque cookies, so I ended up making very tasty pot of cranberry, almond, and pumpkin spice barley pilaf.