To Nicole Rojas, making food is a love language.
“It’s my way of showing you that I love you”
. It was a pleasure to interview Nicole (@by_nicolerojas on Instagram). Her tranquil demeanor radiated throughout our time together. When talking with her, you get the sense Nicole’s commitment to organic experiences has played a significant role in shaping her identity. She is very in the moment; being lost in conversation with her is a joy. She has so many stories to tell, and she tells them quite well.
Nicole and her husband, Andrew, have been working on their remodel for three years. They currently live on a large and beautiful piece of secluded land in the Hudson Valley.
Choosing the Lacanche Range
With her unique lifestyle, we were curious to know how Lacanche came to be her range-of-choice.
How did you decide on a Lacanche?
“Well, when we started this project, we knew that the main living space was going to be open. I love to host, so we knew the focus was going to be the kitchen. The Lacanche stove was always on my Pinterest boards because it’s just so beautiful. I think it’s on a lot of people’s boards. We really didn’t have a set budget for the kitchen. We just knew that we wanted to really pour a lot into that area.”
“I looked at a lot of ranges and different things. I’m a self-taught chef, so for me, it has to feel intuitive. It has to feel like not too much effort. I’m not really a huge computer person, generally speaking, so I didn’t want all the bells and whistles. I wanted it to just be able to turn on and off, you know? I didn’t want to have all these different ‘modes’ that come with a digital stove. That kind of scares me sometimes. Ultimately that is what led us in the direction of an analog range like Lacanche. Also, being able to pick and choose colors and the different knobs is something I really, really loved.”
Is there anything you learned to love about the Lacanche that maybe was unexpected once you started actually using it?
“That’s a good question. One of my favorite things is the power of it, but also how easy it is to control it with all the attachments such as the simmer plate. I think that really has stepped up my whole sauce game in general. I love all the attachments. [Especially] the, I think it’s the griddle? Yeah, I use it all the time”
People are always looking for more applications of the Griddle attachment.
“Yeah, I didn’t realize how much I would’ve loved to have had something like that for most of my life. It’s just perfect and is the one thing that’s always sitting on my stove.”
Is your preference gas or electric?
“Oh, I prefer gas all the way. It just feels natural to me. I think the electric can be so finicky and it’s [too] precise. That’s good for some things, but that’s just not my cooking.
Doing their remodel in the height of Covid came with its own set of challenges.
“I’d actually never seen the stove in person until I got it.”
[Laughs] “I never went to go look at one in person.”
I figured you went to the NY showroom.
“We didn’t! It was during Covid, so going down to the city didn’t really seem feasible. In the end I just trusted my gut, and I trusted myself.”
I love that.
Nicole sits in the kitchen where her Lacanche range can be seen in the background. She recounts making the journey up to New York as an aspiring makeup artist and how she fell in love with the local farmer’s markets.
You mentioned you were a self-taught cook. Can you expand on that?
“My mother growing up never really cooked, so family life never really influenced my cooking. It was more when I moved to the city [to pursue makeup artistry] I really got inspired by the large food culture that’s there. My schedule was all over the place, but I always found myself gravitating towards the Union Square market whenever I had a day off. I think I’d always go on Wednesday, and I lived in Bedside so I would take multiple trains to get there. Even though New York City apartments are not amazing for cooking, I was just so inspired and I was always cooking something for myself.”
“Going to the farmer’s market started there. I would just talk to the farmers and ask, ‘What’s this?’ and ‘How do I use this?’ My roommate, who was my best friend, and I always loved Vietnamese food, so we would tend to cook more Vietnamese-style or Asian-style inspired foods. We wanted to [prioritize] getting together and meeting at a table because our schedules were so spread apart. I’d go to the market, come home, and be like, ‘this is what we’re doing!’ That’s really where I got to learn and grow as a chef. I started buying cookbooks and watching YouTube. It was just organic and it felt like something I wanted to learn.”
Community and Inspiration
Nicole is a highly self-aware individual. Being inspired by her environment has led to an intentionality in her words and actions. An influencer in her own right; Nicole gives just as much inspiration as she finds.
How did you pick the recipes that you showcased for the video you made with Andrew?
“I kind of made it up as I went to the market…I always tell Andrew that I think some of my best cooking happens when I’m just ‘going with it.’ So I try not to be so rigid in the recipes. I mean, there are things that [have to be a certain way], and that’s fine, but for the most part I try to be as open as possible. Living in the Hudson Valley, there’s so much great produce, there’s so much to offer, there’s so many new things.”
And is Hudson Valley known for its produce?
“[From working] in a local cafe, I started to realize how important the farmers are to the community. You can really just eat all local. The farmers up here, there are so many! They’re so widespread and just so awesome. I have a lot of good relationships with the farmers. When I go to the farmer’s market now it’s like seeing my friends because I’m also buying a lot of the produce for work.”
Love and Lacanche
When you think of food and gathering people, what comes to mind?
“Well, I think of love. I think if I have you over to my house and I’m cooking for you, it’s my way of showing you that I love you. And that’s truly how I feel about it. It’s just something that I really enjoy. I enjoy serving people and I enjoy having people sit and just talk about stuff, you know? To be more cozy and comfortable in a space and not feeling like you’re stuck at a table. It’s my love language in a way, just being able to have people come into my home and sit at my table.”
It can be a really healing, restorative thing for people.
“Yeah, and it doesn’t feel so stuffy like a restaurant! I think that’s where our ideas came from for the future of my career. Hopefully I can translate that to strangers and we can curate some sort of experience where they feel like they’re with strangers, but they’re also at home.”
Nicole, Thank you so much. It was a joy getting to meet you.
“Thank you for just listening to my stories! I want people to know, this stove, it’s beautiful but it’s not as intimidating as some people think it might be. I think ultimately anybody can learn to do anything.”