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Feature

May 14, 2021
How Chef Woldy Reyes Found the Perfect Vessel For His Filipino-Inspired Food
We stalked him on Instagram to find out.
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We at The Infatuation spend a lot of time on Instagram. You could argue this is due to the nature of our work - but that explanation would be too charitable. The fact is, my coworkers and I like looking at pictures of food, and, increasingly, the ceramics, plates, and flatware people use to enjoy said food. So here’s a new series called As Seen In IG. It’s a place where we’ll sit down and chat with someone we’ve been shamelessly stalking on Instagram, with a spotlight on a specific post and product that caught our attention.

First up, we have Woldy Reyes, who you can find at @woldykusina. Woldy spent the better part of a decade working in fashion - at such places as Elle, Nylon, and 3.1 Philip Lim - before founding Woldy Kusina in 2016. The project started as a catering company, but now it’s a (buzzy) roaming culinary popup with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients, drawing inspiration from Woldy’s Filipino roots.

The IG post of Woldy’s we’ll be focusing on today is the one below, featuring a lovely ceramic casserole dish - which, it turns out, is from Brooklyn-based Workaday Handmade. I sat down for a quick chat with Woldy (who’s currently working on a few projects in upstate New York) to conduct a full investigation.

I looked at every one of your posts and stared at all of your dishware. Do you think that’s weird?

Not at all. I think it’s great.

So where’d you find this piece?

I initially found it on Instagram, and I was captivated by the cobalt blue. It was sold out on [Workaday Handmade’s] website, but luckily I found it at The Primary Essentials in Boerum Hill. I really like to think through, not only how I’m going to cook my food, but how I’ll present it as well - and what brings me joy is finding the perfect vessel. Here, basically, I created a modern take on laing, which is a Filipino stew with taro leaf. But I didn’t use taro, I used Tuscan kale, and I served it in this Workaday dish, which works beautifully with food and the colors that I put in my food.

What other makers do you like right now?

There’s this company upstate called Hudson River Exchange. It’s an AAPI, women-owned business, and they curate different artists and makers. Lately, I’ve been gravitating toward all of the AAPI makers living and working in the Hudson Valley, like the potter Sarah Mijares. There’s a bowl behind me that she formed, and she makes beautiful plates as well. Then there’s this Korean ceramicist [Young Mi Kim] who runs Dōye Studio. It’s all free form, and I like the natural organic look to what she does. Another Filipino-American maker is Erica Recto. She’s also a ceramicist. I’m drawn to these things that have a sensibility and a story, and I think there’s a commonality with how I approach food and how [these artists] approach their mediums - which is typically clay or whatever natural elements.

Anyone else you’d like to shoutout?

Yeah, actually, a friend of mine, the artist Daniel Robin Clurman. There’s an Alice Neel show going on at The Met, and I think a lot of his work is doing something similar, but more geared to how we’re living today. I draw a lot of inspiration from his use of color and who he’s painting or drawing. He finds his subjects on social media.

Who’s the last person you stalked on Instagram?

Athena Calderone. Her Instagram handle is @eyeswoon.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I’m working on a pop-up that’s slated to happen this June in Hudson on Warren Street. It’s probably going to be at Home/Made Hudson. Then I’m a guest chef for Pioneer Works, part of their Supper Club series on July 20th. I’m looking forward to that.

Where To Find Woldy's Dish

You can find Woldy’s hypnotically blue casserole dish at NYC-based ceramics studio Workaday Handmade. Unfortunately (like many another Workaday product), this particular dish is currently sold out. But you can still grab it in black or white, both of which are highly covetable consolation prizes.

Get a Workaday Handmade Casserole (from $60) →

A Few Nice Alternatives

We’re recommending these product because we actually use, and like, them. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

We’re recommending these product because we actually use, and like, them. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

This Staub rice cooker has a similar shape and insulating function, it’s just a little more heavy-duty. Made of enameled cast iron, you can use this on the stovetop or throw it in your oven, and it comes in a variety of shades.

Get a Food52 x Staub Petite French Oven Stovetop Rice Cooker ($199) →

It’s the color that really does it for us here. This is a slightly lighter option in enamel-coated steel from the mid-century Scandinavian brand Dansk, and it’s also oven and stovetop safe. Not into the teal? Try firetruck red.

Get a Food52 x Dansk Kobenstyle Casserole (from $115) →

Squint, and this Dutch oven from Great Jones looks fairly identical to Woldy’s Workaday casserole dish. Although it’s perfectly attractive in its own right as well, and Staff Writer Anne Cruz finds that this piece of cast-iron cookware is especially good at retaining for slowly cooked braises like Sunday brisket.

Get The Dutchess ($155) →

Don’t want to spend more than $100? We understand. Check out this more-affordable 3-quart Dutch oven from the Belgian brand BergHOFF.

Get a BergHOFF Neo Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($80) →

At the other end of the spectrum, we have this rather deluxe Staub option that Caribbeing founder Shelley Worrell uses (almost) every day. It works for everything from callaloo to cinnamon rolls (and looks great too).

Get Food52 x Staub Round Cocotte (from $299) →

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