Ten Minutes With Lynne Pasquale
Bakery owner and private chef to Mick Jagger, Annie Leibowitz, Jennifer Lopez, and Tommy Hilfiger
Lynne Pasquale, who recently opened Friends & Company Kitchen, featuring dairy-, sugar-, and gluten-free items as well as some that are nut- and egg-free, has had a remarkable food journey. An interest that blossomed in her parents’ Katonah gardens ultimately brought her to the kitchens of Mick Jagger, Annie Leibowitz, Jennifer Lopez, and Tommy Hilfiger as a private chef. An only child raised by adventurous parents, Pasquale was well-traveled and saw much of the world by the age of ten.
What’s your first memory of cooking?
On weekend mornings my father would bring a chair over to the stove and we would make sunny-side-up eggs. Usually, I cooked with my mother. We were inspired by Julia Child and Graham Kerr of “The Galloping Gourmet.”
Is there a cooking experience that stands out?
I inherited my mother’s adventurous spirit. When asked if I would cook for a Greenwich family on their boat, I said “yes”! I quickly learned that cooking on a boat is an altogether different experience. Everything has to be locked down because a boat is in constant motion. I remember initially, supplies and cooking implements flying and sliding all over—I was terrified the cake was going to fall out of the oven. It felt like I was on and episode of “I Love Lucy.”
You’ve cooked for some very high-profile people. How did that all start?
Twenty years ago I met a woman chef named Trish who owned a catering shop in Greenwich. She was delighted to meet another female chef in what was still a very male-dominated industry. I explained that I was a vegetarian and only cooked healthful food. I told her that I worked in high-end restaurants where I learned techniques and flavor combinations and then adapted them to my style of eating, hoping that someday I’d be able to only cook this type of cuisine. Several months later, while working for Brendan Walsh, Trish called me at the restaurant and said that Tommy Hilfiger was looking for a chef who only cooked healthy food. A few days later he sent a limousine to my cottage in the woods.
Any funny stories from those days?
The Hilfiger children were extraordinary. None of their past chefs had ever allowed them in the kitchen. Having spent my formative years there, I thought this absurd. Together we cooked, made huge messes, and created art projects. I still managed to get seven-course meals on the table and on time. As the children got older they got used to me asking them to try a new gluten-, dairy-, and sugar-free recipe. They would say “Another one of your desserts that has nothing in it!”
Why did you leave all that behind?
I loved being a private chef. There’s such room for creativity and flexibility but it’s a very solitary work environment. We do everything from shopping, to cooking, to serving, and cleaning up. I missed the camaraderie and teamwork. I was ready to start my own groovy workplace with lots of people I could have fun with.
What’s your personal philosophy?
You are what you eat. I’m a child of the ’60s. I like to feel good and to be a happy person. I’m so grateful that I have a career where I can make people happy and healthy. It’s a win-win life!