E-ZEE BAKING: He’s a fashion editor, stylist, talk show host, red-carpet analyst, author and now, efficient epicurean. On Tuesday night Joe Zee cohosted an event that, even by fashion standards, was off-beat: a cooking class at The Brooklyn Kitchen that involved two different appliances — a professional-grade gas oven by American Range, and the latest iteration of the childhood favorite, Easy-Bake.
Zee is a man of many professional connections, Hasbro and Easy-Bake not among them. (At least not yet.) So the invitation to a cooking class featuring the oven proved curious — one only social media could facilitate. As a child, Zee longed for the oven his parents were disinclined to oblige: “You’re an Asian kid. You should be a doctor or something.” While his friend Maria’s ethnicity went unnoted, her parents had no issue with youthful development of culinary skills, and Zee spent countless afternoons at her house baking cookies. (One cookie at a time. Until 10 or so years ago, Zee informed, the oven’s source of heat generation was a slow-going incandescent light bulb.)
After Zee shared the memory on his now-canceled talk show, “FABLife,” an ABC executive gifted him with today’s Easy-Bake — a sleek, black-domed contraption with a discrete aqua swirl on the side; Zee’s stylistic take on the current model: “more gender-neutral.”
As he does with much of what goes on in his life, he Instagrammed a picture of himself with the oven, a post seen by Taylor Erkkinen, owner with her husband Harry Rosenblum of The Brooklyn Kitchen, purveyor of culinary delights and cooking classes where Zee and his fiancé Rob Younkers had taken instruction. Her immediate thought: “We have to do something.” And, voilà, an event was born.
Most of those who turned out were online fashion and food press of the Millennial persuasion, though Elle’s Anne Slowey, a proud former Easy-Baker, and this one-time colleague of Zee’s from the W days, also showed up.
Guests sipped wine and partook of savories from the Kitchen’s bountiful offerings, many in the spicy ham variety. Then the program kicked in. Sydney Willcox, the store’s culinary manager and Zee worked through three recipes, he, handling the Easy-Bake versions, and she, upgrades more suited to an editorial audience on an evening in Williamsburg. Willcox’s charm could not hide the fact that “easy” is not an ingredient in making Valrhona chocolate tuilles. She lied.
Not so, Zee. It seems that whatever heat source replaced the light bulb has done little to speed the cooking process — a fact Zee noted with gleeful sarcasm during every recipe. Maybe Hasbro won’t come knocking after all.