his month at Splacer we’re celebrating both Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving, so we thought there was no better time to talk to one of our favorite space owners, Karen Mordechai. She’s an Israeli born and Brooklyn bred photographer whose passion for food has grown into Sunday Suppers – a business built around cookbooks, kitchen essentials, and dinner parties. She’s also the owner of our Subway Tiled Sunlit Studio, that captures the eclectic and changing culture of the neighborhood, while also speaking to her nostalgic Brooklyn memories. We caught up with Karen to discuss her passion for photography, food, and style.
SPLACER: Tell us a little about yourself, where did you grow up, what did you do before Sunday Suppers?
KAREN MORDECHAI: I was raised in New York almost my entire life. I was born in Israel and my parents immigrated to the city when I was very young. I have fond memories of my Brooklyn childhood – fire hydrants, milk deliveries, bike rides and friendly neighbors – we were lucky enough to spend summers in Israel visiting family and traveling.
SPLACER: So you studied photography, but when did you become a food photographer, and how did Sunday Suppers come about?
KAREN MORDECHAI: I received my Masters in Photography and ran my own wedding photography business for several years before starting Sunday Suppers but my passion has always really been with food. Sunday Suppers actually grew out of the communal cooking dinners my husband and I hosted in our apartment beginning in the Spring of 2009. I have always loved cooking and playing with the beautiful ingredients I find at the market – I feel fortunate to have been able to build this business around two of my greatest passions.
SPLACER: What has Sunday Suppers become since its launch and where would you like it go?
KAREN MORDECHAI: Sunday Suppers has evolved in such an incredible and truly organic way since its launch. We launched our first cookbook, Sunday Suppers: Recipes + Gatherings, in October 2014 and have since launched an entire line of kitchen essentials called ILĀ. I am excited about what’s coming next for ILĀ as we’re developing our collection and constantly sourcing for new and exciting expansions beyond the kitchen for the entire home. We are also working on our next cookbook.
We create our communal cooking-dining experiences in tune with the seasons and our menus are inspired by what we find at the market. The experiences are relaxed, jovial and are designed to bring people together around a shared passion for good food and community.
SPLACER: Tell me about your Williamsburg Studio listed on Splacer, what attracted you to it?
KAREN MORDECHAI: We got really lucky with the studio space. It was a totally raw loft space when we found it and its open plan allowed me to really transform it into the dream kitchen I had envisioned. It has enormous North facing windows, with the kind of exposure best for shooting in natural light. I grew up in Brooklyn, and have always had nostalgic memories associated with the borough. South Williamsburg has such a fascinating and rich history, with such a wonderful blend of people and cultures – it also has a little more grit to it than the more gentrified northern part of Williamsburg, while still offering great food and waterfront views.
SPLACER: Anything special about the place such as historical or design facts?
KAREN MORDECHAI: The building the studio is housed in is one of the oldest in the neighborhood and thus has a great deal more character than the crop of new apartment complexes sprouting up around the area. It has been home mainly to a collection of artists -print makers, photographers, musicians – and is always a buzz with creative energy. It’s got a totally quirky (and very Brooklyn) history – it was once evacuated in 2008 for housing a secret matzo factory in it’s basement.
SPLACER: Tell us a little bit about the interior design.
KAREN MORDECHAI: As a natural light photographer, I am always inspired by clean, bright spaces that offer a kind of blank slate and very malleable canvas. I love the modern and minimal aesthetic of Japanese and Danish design and certainly took that into consideration when building my kitchen studio. I love so many things about the studio, it’s hard to narrow down to just a few. If I had to, I’d say my favorite aspects of the studio are…its brightness: its huge windows just fill the space with a light unlike anywhere else, even on the greyest days. The columns: though the space is very open plan, there are two supporting concrete columns that have a really rugged and beautiful finish to them which adds so much character. The amount of space: the studio is 1,500 square feet with high ceilings and space to roam. There’s something about having room too breathe in such a busy and crowded city – it gives the space a sense of calm. The marble counters: the space itself is white everywhere – white walls, floors, ceilings – and the white marble counter tops bounce light around the room giving it a kind of serene glow. It also makes for a beautiful background when shooting food. The studio is a happy place, plain and simple, so we like to maintain that positive energy – not hard to do.
SPLACER: Sunday Suppers hosts tons of dinner parties at your space, tell us about them!
KAREN MORDECHAI: Our first supper was a simple gathering of good friends in our Brooklyn home. For the first year and a half or so I worked with one chef and we collaborated on all the meals and details, bringing in artists and crafters to add to each dinner. With time we started working with new chefs and expand our roster. We create our communal cooking-dining experiences in tune with the seasons and our menus are inspired by what we find at the market. The experiences are relaxed, jovial and are designed to bring people together around a shared passion for good food and community. We host ticketed and private dinner events, often times with a cooking class component built into them.
SPLACER: Your favorite building or architecture in NYC?
KAREN MORDECHAI: The New York Public Library is always breathtaking but, since it’s recent renovation, it is somehow even more beautiful.
SPLACER: Your top 5 restaurant spaces in NYC?
KAREN MORDECHAI: That’s such a hard question – I would say my regular “Go To” spots are Marlow & Sons, Rubirosa for pizza, Reynards and Buvette. More recently, the new Hudson on High Street that just opened and Lilia both beautiful
spaces and put out beautiful food. (Plus, I’m a long time Russ and Daughters fan – the space has so much history and character to it).