Emma Hearst started cooking at the age of five, and from the beginning, the love and support of her parents allowed her to pursue her dream. That included not only eating what she served them from the time she was a kid but also taking her to the best restaurants in the world, whether they accepted children or not. When Emma was thirteen, she got a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant in Albany, New York, where the family lived. After high school, she went to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and completed her externship at Manhattan's Union Square Cafe. She was at the end of her time at the CIA when she met Sarah Krathen, whom she did not like at first. Fortunately, Emma got over that, and they were soon the best of friends. Together, they made Emma's dream of owning a restaurant in New York City a reality with the 2008 opening of Sorella, with Emma as executive chef.
Sarah Krathen fell in love with restaurant work at the age of fifteen. She started as a barker for a restaurant on Duval Street in Key West, which meant her job was to get tourists to come in off the street and eat there. The owner of Fogarty's, a much bigger, newer, and better restaurant, saw her at work and hired her as a hostess. At Fogarty's, she went from hostess to server to expo (the intermediary between the kitchen and the customers) and then decided to attend culinary school. She enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America, received an associate degree in culinary arts, and then completed a fellowship under her mentor, John Storm, in the on-campus Ristorante Caterina de' Medici. It was during that fellowship that she met Emma Hearst, a meeting that she describes as the most important of her life. The pair became best friends, roommates, and eventually business partners. Sorella opened on New York's Lower East Side in 2008, with Sarah managing the front of the house and beverage program.
Q: How did you get your start in the culinary world?
Emma: I started cooking when I was five. I used to watch cooking shows instead of cartoons and would play restaurant instead of house. I began working in restaurants in high school and then went to college for it when I graduated.
Q: Who (or what) are your culinary influences?
Emma: The little old ladies of the world who cook with soul.
Q: What is your cooking/food philosophy?
Emma: Keep it clean and, most importantly, tasty.
Q: How have your travels in Italy influenced what you cook at Sorella? How are you influenced by Piedmont specifically, and how would you define "contemporary Piedmont"?
Emma: The mindset of the people we came across while in Italy really stuck and resonated with us. Everything is made by hand with integrity and love. That certainly influenced the cuisine at Sorella the most. We wanted people to taste the love in what we were providing them.
Q: What ingredients should home cooks use to create Piedmontese/Italian meals at home?
Emma: An abundance of good quality dry goods and beautiful fresh produce. We have a pantry list in the back of our book.
Q: There's a section in the book that talks about how you and Sarah find balance through exercise. How do you find the time? Why is it important?
Emma: Exercise is important for our minds and our body, both of which you need in great condition to be on top of your game.