Designers — believe it or not — do things other than make clothes. At least, that’s the premise of Bergdorf’s new dinner series, Designer’s Off Duty, which allows designers to lead masterclasses on their hobbies. The first look into a designer’s interior life was Phillip Lim, who recently self-published a passion project “book on cooking” with collaborator and photographer Viviane Sassen. It’s not really a cookbook, Lim explains, because he’s not a chef and doesn’t want people to think he’s calling himself an expert. He taught himself to cook by memory when he was missing his mom, and made the Thai basil chicken she would make him whenever he was a grumpy child.
The rest of the recipes, like salt-and-pepper shrimp and a hearty three-egg omelette, are all staples in the Lim kitchen. It’s structured as a conversation between Sassen and Lim — he writes a recipe and tells a story, she pairs it with a photo from her travels. Last night Lim brought the book to life when he taught friends and a few special Bergdorf customers how to make summer rolls with dipping sauce (even though some jokingly balked at the two full tablespoons of sugar that went into the sauce to balance out the acidity and saltiness of the fish sauce). It was a unique experience, having an acclaimed designer explain why you should put the lettuce on your summer roll first and finish with a sprig of mint and not the other way around. Since Lim’s book was self-published, only a few copies are left online and in boutiques. However, the photos capture the spirit of cooking with Phillip — simple, tasteful, and (naturally) aesthetically pleasing.