Greek-American chef Mina Stone of Mina's at MoMa's PS1 and author of Cooking for Artists is back with a new cookbook, Lemon, Love & Olive Oil, designed again in collaboration with world-renowned artist Urs Fischer. The cookbook includes more than 80 Mediterranean-style recipes, inspired by Stone's Greek heritage on her mother's side and her restaurant.
For years, she cooked lunches at Urs Fischer's Brooklyn-based art studio as well as gallery dinners for New York's art world. In 2019, Stone opened her own restaurant, Mina's, housed within MoMA's PS1 at 22-25 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, NY.
Lemon, Love & Olive Oil “documents the recipes from different avenues of my life,” writes Stone. While she still cooks for artists since opening Mina's, she also started a family with her partner Alex Eagleton, and realized that cooking has become more important, a necessity as well as a source of familiar comfort and a place to connect with family, friends, and community.
Stone learned to cook from her yiayia, who taught her that food doesn't have to be complicated to be delicious- and that almost any dish can be improved with lemon, olive oil, and salt. In Lemon, Love & Olive Oil, Stone celebrates her grandmother and the other influences that have shaped her life, her career, and her culinary tastes and expertise.
The uncomplicated dishes in the book are arranged into Meze, Salads, Fish, Meat, Beans & Lentils, Rice, Pasta, Vegetables, Dessert, and Breakfast. The meze recipes include Fried Halloumi with Lemon Slices, Olive Oil, and Chile Flakes.
The fish section is an ode to the journey Stone took each summer with her family to Greece and the alluring smell that greeted them when her yiayia opened her door to welcome them back.
Stone believes cooking meat should be sacrificial, special, and not an everyday practice. Many of the recipes in the meat section stretch a meat-based ingredient further by adding rice or a sauce, turning it into a taco filling, or roasting it with vegetables.
Stone grew up eating bean and lentil dishes often, as the main course with a side of olives, feta, and bread. She has retained this ethos when cooking for large events- it's important to learn how to “cook for the village.”
Stone also answered a few questions for The National Herald about Lemon, Love & Olive Oil.
TNH: How long did the book take from idea to realization?
Mina Stone: The book took about five years. I always knew it would pick up where Cooking for Artists left off as I consider both books to be journals- explorations of life through a period of time but through the lens of recipes I've cooked.
TNH: What is your favorite recipe for a quick weeknight meal?
MS: Greek fried eggs with horiatiki (Greek country salad) and bread. French fries, if I make it “less quick.” It was what my Yiayia made for me as a quick summertime dinner and now what I make for myself and my family.
TNH: Were you always interested in becoming a chef?
MS: I was always interested in cooking, but not becoming a chef. I went to art school in New York to become a fashion designer (which I did for many years), yet, cooking ended up taking over once I started cooking for gallery dinners.
TNH: What are you working on next?
MS: I'm always working at my restaurant Mina's at PS1, and like to plan the upcoming seasonal menus. I'd also like to work on spending more time in Greece and learning more about the food!
Lemon, Love & Olive Oil is available online and in bookstores.
Follow Mina Stone under the handle: @minastone
More information about Mina's at MoMA P.S. 1 is available by phone: 718-440-4616 and online: https://www.minas.nyc/.