It’s 2 P.M. and the photoshoot has just ended. Chef and culinary creator par excellence Molly Baz and I stroll down the bamboo-lined walkway of Second Home, a design-decadent co-working space in Hollywood. We stop at a bench lining the boardwalk. I realize that I’ve forgotten all about lunch. As if on cue, Baz asks, “Do you mind if I eat while we talk?”
I suppose it’s not surprising given Baz’s culinary expertise that the chef is somewhat more prepared than me, though she expresses that what she’s brought leaves a little something to be desired. “Right now I’m thinking to myself, ‘This salad is overly lean and needs something fattier,”’ she says between bites. “And the cucumbers and tomatoes aren’t really servicing it in any way here. A few scoops of avocado would have gone a long way.”
Baz has a lot going on. She’s released a Crate & Barrel line with her husband, designer Ben Willet, launched a wine company called Drink This Wine with vintner Andy Young, and hosts the Youtube series Hit The Kitch With Molly Baz. Today, she’s excited to talk about her latest cookbook, More Is More, which hit the shelves in October. The latest offering builds upon the foundation laid by New York Times Bestseller Cook This Book. “As I was writing the proposal for my first cookbook, I was like, ‘How do I distill everything that I think is important for a young cook to learn into manageable little bites?’” she explains. “I did a lot of deep thinking about what cooking is, and what makes someone a great cook. I ultimately boiled it down to understanding flavor and having your head wrapped around technique.”
Baz has demonstrated a dogged understanding for the craft, having earned her stripes through years working as a line cook (the stories of which could be pulled straight out of FX’s The Bear). But an integral part of the luminary recipe creator’s magnetism is her charming and magnanimous onscreen personality, having long cemented herself as a mainstay in the cyber culinary universe as the host of Bon Appétit’s popular cooking show Molly Tries.
If someone unfamiliar with Baz’s kitchen approach stumble across a recipe in either of her cookbooks, a QR code takes them through a short instructional video. Baz shows each step along the way from how to chop an onion, sear a steak, deep fry chicken thighs. Any technique that the dish requires, there’s a video of Baz making it look so low-key that you wonder why anyone would struggle with it in the first place. “The idea of More Is More is: If you’ve cooked through Cook This Book, now you’re kind of ready to loosen up. Really crank things up and learn to cook like a professional, not like a timid home cook. It’s about learning to cook with intuition and with some real gumption.”
Baz was hit with the idea for her new cookbook much like she is struck by the mediocrity of the salmon salad that currently sits before her. Some time ago, she ordered calamari at a dive bar and, rather than surrendering to the unremarkable, sprung into action and spruced up the fried squid with ingredients in the vicinity: lemon wedges from her cocktail, salt from her bag (apparently she carries some with her wherever she goes, because, well, you never know). “I had a come-to-Jesus moment where I was like, ‘This is the difference between me and a home cook. I know how to fix it. I have the drive, the tools, the wherewithal to make sure that it’s delicious.’ Most people don’t go that extra step and they accept mediocrity in food. I want to equip readers with my same expertise and confidence.”
We say goodbye and fittingly the supposed hunger returns with a vengeance. I frown as I remember the cold buffalo chicken wrap from Trader Joe’s that waits for me in the fridge back at the office. The frown doesn’t last, though. After an inspiring conversation with Baz, I’m thinking how I might turn it into something great.
Photographed by Tyler Nevitt
Styled by Luca Kingston
Written by Isaac Dektor
Makeup: Jessie Yarborough
Location: Second Home Hollywood