In the spring of 2013, Missy Robbins took a tremendous leap of faith. She walked away from the pair of New York City restaurants where she'd earned Michelin stars as the executive chef and toward—nothing. She didn't have another gig lined up (there were plenty of offers), wasn't planning a cooking show or a big consulting job. She simply knew that her life and health had gotten out of balance, and she needed to get her mind and body back on track after years of working at a brutal pace in the kitchen. She traveled, she rested, and most importantly to her, she reframed her relationship with food.
After a nearly two-year hiatus, Robbins stepped back into the kitchen, opening her own highly-acclaimed restaurant—Lilia—in Brooklyn. She is in the best shape of her life, she says, after adopting some healthier habits that have stuck with her, and has recently published a cookbook called Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner...Life where she shares the lessons and recipes she developed while she transitioned from cooking in a professional kitchen into much tighter and less lavishly-stocked quarters at home.
Extra Crispy spoke with Robbins by phone about how she's maintained her morning routine now that she's back in the throes of restaurant life.
Photo by Evan Sung
Extra Crispy: What does your breakfast routine look like now? Missy Robbins: It's gotten terrible these days but it's still really important to me, the breakfast thing. I know that days I don't eat breakfast I get really hangry and I start binging at work the second I get there. That is old Missy. That's old patterns, so I try really hard to eat something. It changes. I get bored really easily with breakfast so the other I bought tortillas and eggs and some cheese to start making little breakfast taco-y things.
There's a cafe named Butler across the street from me. They make awesome protein bars from grains and nuts. I eat one almost every day and especially on the days that I'm on the run. I try and eat fruit. I go through protein shake moments. I go through oatmeal moments. I don't have a specific routine. I have weeks where I'm eating oatmeal every day.
How do you carve out that time for yourself? I work from home a lot in the morning. It gets my day started right. And I have kind of a routine of returning a lot of emails and making phone calls. I try and get a lot of it out of the way so that when I am in the restaurant I can be a little bit more present and just be on the phone. It's hard for me to focus when I'm at the restaurant too many people talking to me—which is not a bad thing—it's that I really enjoy those moments of quiet working in the morning, and I have stolen those for myself. I love going to get coffee and bringing it back here and sitting for a couple hours doing stuff. It's peaceful for me.
Hazelnut Yogurt, Dried Figs, Cocoa
Photo by Evan Sung
Possibly one of the best things I ate during my stay in Alba while in Piemonte on my year off was hazelnut yogurt. It was not from an artisan company or specially homemade (it was packaged rather commercially from a German company). But it was delicious. Nut yogurts are not something we see often in the States and it was revelatory to me. Nutty, earthy, tangy, and slightly sweet. When I came home I looked high and low for it and couldn’t find it anywhere, so I came up with this recreation of the magical breakfast treat. If you’re not using it all right away, store the yogurt in a tightly sealed container in the fridge to enjoy all week.
2 cups skinless hazelnuts, toasted until golden brown plus 4 tablespoons for garnish
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil
¼ cup honey
4–8 dried figs, cut in ¼-inch slices
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
How to Make It
Place the yogurt in a blender and with the blender on high speed. Gradually addthe nuts, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Continue blending until the nuts are fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
With the blender still on, gradually pour in the hazelnut oil.
Mix in the honey.
To serve, divide the yogurt into four bowls. Evenly distribute the figs around the top, followed by the hazelnuts. Finish with a dusting of cocoa powder.