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It’s an early Sunday morning in Brooklyn and Kerry Diamond, divisional vice president of public relations at Coach, is in the middle of an interview. She’s winding her way through the Carroll Gardens farmer’s market discussing her favorite way to cook eggs. “Poached,” says Diamond, whose husband chef Robert Newton then pipes in: “covered in bacon.” As co-owners of nearby restaurants Seersucker and Smith Canteen, they are busy picking up goods to add to their menus while simultaneously talking not just eggs, but also the differences between grass- and corn-fed cows, and the intricacies of stinging nettle.
Fashion is full of second and third acts. But this story isn’t so much about Diamond — who jumped from the beauty industry to public relations and gastronomy — as it is about the young twosome interviewing her: Michael King, 27, and Lauren Levinger, 26, who are embarking on a new act of their own. King, a fashion publicist at Siren Public Relations, and Levinger, a former market associate for Creative Artists Agency, are launching a blog on Monday called Thefood-life.com.
This story first appeared in the July 15, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We’re learning as we go,” says Levinger, while King adds, “We love asking questions. And working in the fashion industry, you just adapt.” But they’re bringing more to their start-up Web site than a gung-ho attitude and a shared interest in culinary pursuits; they’ve tapped their network of friends and colleagues for a lineup of profiles, including ones on Nicole Richie, graffiti artist Curtis Kulig and Alexander Wang.
The duo actually met years ago through Wang. Levinger grew up with the designer in San Francisco; King studied with him at Parsons The New School for Design. It was at Wang’s birthday in Las Vegas last December that the Fort Greene, Brooklyn, residents made a date to hang out when they returned. That’s when they drummed up the idea for The Food Life over, coincidentally, brunch at Seersucker.
“We realized we both loved food,” says King, “and talked about how fun it would be to own a restaurant.” They ultimately settled for a more manageable endeavor: a self-funded foodie Web site, with content updated several times a week. Levinger, who catered Wang’s carnival-themed fashion-show after party last September, says the goal is “to make food fun and accessible for everyone.” But their approach stems more from fashion than food. Taking a cue from street-style blogs, for instance, one section is dubbed The Street. “It’s about what people are eating on the streets instead of what they’re wearing,” explains King. Other pages include The Masters, which features people in the culinary industry — e.g., Newton and Diamond — and The Tastemakers, which is devoted to food hobbyists.
King and Levinger’s connections come in handy for the latter, which explains the heavy fashion presence. Richie’s House of Harlow 1960 label is a client of King’s firm so it was easy to convince her to open up about her travel-friendly food regimen (that post will run in August). “She’s very health-conscious, but also a mom on the go. She always carries this special type of seaweed that gives her energy,” says King, adding that his boss at Siren is aware of his new venture.
As for The Food Life’s first profile, it only makes sense that it’s reserved for their old friend Wang, who invited King and Levinger to one of his weekly family dinners with his brother and sister-in-law in their SoHo apartment. “We wanted to know, what does comfort food mean to him?” says King. The answer: Sausage with scallions, soup, Taiwanese three-cup chicken and a black fungus, bean sprout and tofu dish. “They always cook traditional Chinese food,” continues King. “So we helped prepare, chop, wash things. Our features aren’t about questions and answers. It’s a conversation and tying it back to an experience.”