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Inside Sophia Roe and Chris Calderon’s Brooklyn-based culinary studio, Apartment Miso

sophia roe

Minimalist at home, maximalist at work Sophia Roe discusses an intertwined world with her partner Chris Calderon. Based in Brooklyn, the two co-founded intimate culinary space Apartment Miso – a place to cook and feel complete freedom of expression. While traveling to Mexico City, they sit down together to reflect on it.

CC: Let’s talk about how we went about creating our home and workspaces together?

SR: Our approach to our home space is really about space. We are very, very minimal. We love not having much. In fact, I'd say if tomorrow someone said you have to move, we'd be able to pack up our entire home and pack in up in six to eight hours. Truly, we really don't have much. You like to practise movement in the house and I love just being able to have some sprawling space. Nothing is better than being able to lay on the floor. Whereas Apartment Miso is the exact opposite.

Apartment Miso is like a junk drawer. It's like a catch all. Not to say that everything in Apartment Miso is just junk, in fact, it's all very precious stuff. We just treat it more like a tool shed. It has a lot of memorabilia, and things that mean a lot to us in it, like tchotchkes and doodads. It’s just a lot fuller of a space than our actual home.


CC: Are there pieces in our space that you particularly love, and do they have a story?

SR: Yes. There is this painting by Anne Harper. It’s bright and textured and it was one of the first things we had on the wall. This painting was actually a really great impetus for how we kind of did the rest of our studio. So that painting is very, very important. I didn't realise that I had so much blue. But once we put this painting up on the wall, it brought out all the other blues.

CC: Is there a space you love being in or feel inspired in?

SR: I really love being in Apartment Miso. It's my favourite space in the world. It's the space where we can both very much spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally take our shirts off. In Apartment Miso I feel like I'm always good, even when I completely fail in the kitchen, I'm still good, I'm still straight, I'm still happy, I still feel love. It's just the most precious space I can imagine.


CC: How do we work together?

SR: Some days are great and some days I fail. I feel like, Chris, you are really good at always being cool and keeping it together and I am not. I crumble. I really struggle with stress management. I feel the weight of everything all the time and so I have moments where I'm bawling my eyes out, or I'm completely a mess and losing it over something. It's like a seesaw. You bring me back to the middle, even when I completely lose it, you never hold it against me. You are super laissez- faire and I think sometimes too chill about something like a deliverable or something we need to do. But we're a good balance. I'm the stress case. You’re the really chill one, so we definitely balance each other out.

CC: I would also add that you like times and schedules – you're really good at that. It's not all stress. We're a very healthy balance. So with that being said, how do we separate home and work life, Sophia?

SR: I actually think we're pretty good at that because our studio is our studio and our home is our home.

CC: Yeah, I feel like when you close that door at Miso, there's deliverables and stuff like edits that might come home, but very rarely. I feel like we're good about getting the work done while we're there.

SR: Yes, I think the only thing we do at home is dream and concept. I definitely love a night time treatment build. I love to get a shot list dreamt. I might not write the shot list, but I'll dream about it. Like where and when we shoot certain projects. We’re coming out with a zine sort of dedicated to our studio, those kinds of projects are pure fun, so it's kind of nice to bring that home. But when we're working for a client, we're very good about keeping that work in the studio.

CC: Do we want to share our day-to-day, like how we live and work in our space?

SR: We are very early risers, would say the earlier the better. We're up at 6am sometimes, even earlier than that. Get ready for the studio. You drink a morning coffee. I drink a morning tea. Then we drive 15 minutes to the studio. If it's a nice day we’ll walk to the studio. We have a fourth floor walk, so we pick up the mail – there is usually lots of packages, everything from like random sheet pans to construction paper to museum putty to bags of sugar. Every kind of thing you can imagine gets sent to the studio because we need to cook with it, need a product to shoot with, props and things.

Then I go straight into a recipe, whereas you usually are working on an edit or organising the studio. You kind of act like a studio manager. If we need eggs, if we need butter, if we need strawberries, if we need anything in the studio, you’re the person on hand. And that is crazy that I give you that role because I'm very particular about my product, but I really trust you and I know you know how to source good product. Having worked together for years and years, we've known each other for almost 10 years now and been together for three years, so you knows what I like and what is good.

We work solidly for about six hours, then around 1pm or 2pm, you go to pick up Kenzo (Chris’ son) from school. I stay in the studio from 2pm until about 5pm and work on all administrative stuff, scheduling stuff, emails etc. I do that with Danny, who really acts as like a project manager for Apartment Miso. Danny really acts on keeping us both really organised when it comes to what is due for who and when. So it's really just like a small but mighty team of three.

CC: Ok, can we do some quick fire? What's your favourite cooking tool?

SR: My favourite cooking tool. I love using a microplane. I love a small baby whisk. If you're making a choux pastry or you're doing a pastry cream or something, you want to get in those crevices. I love a whisk with a long handle, a longer handle tool is really nice. And I love spoons. I use spoons a lot.

CC: Your favourite song or artist to cook to?

SR: Lately I really love cooking to Kendrick Lamar, because Kendrick makes me feel like we're right next to each other, and that's so cool. We do like a lot of old school hip hop in the studio, but that’s your thing Chris. Then there's also these moments where I just want to listen to Jessica Pratt and have an emotional moment, you know.

CC: What is one movie that inspired you?

SR: So many, but Auntie Mame, the Rosalind Russell one, not the Lucille Ball one. I saw that movie first when I was maybe five or six years old. It was the first movie that a woman had that much chutzpah. She just has a lot of guts and she doesn't take no for an answer and I just love that role. So much of that film really still impacts my life, but impacted me heavily as a kid. Rosalind Russell in general is just an amazing actress.

CC: What do you think you would tell someone who wants to become a chef, that isn't right now or maybe is scared to start?

SR: Just practise your craft so much, as much as you can. Read recipes like they are your Bible. Like they were books that you read, like The Great Gatsby. But make it a cookbook. Focus on getting your craft confident because once you get confident then it's easier to be creative. If your craft feels good, you’re good. I know that I can sit down and just kill a biscuit. I know the technical is so tight because I've done it thousands of times. I have worked butter into flour thousands of times. I have made choux pastry. I have worked butter and flour and milk over a pot thousands of times. It’s the same with rigging down a chicken or shucking an oyster. The more you do it, the more you feel good about it. The more space and bandwidth you have to worry less about how it tastes and have more fun with what your imagination can do with it.

CC: Amazing. I love you.

SR: I love you too.

sophia roe

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