This Local Chef and Writer Is Preserving Family Recipes and the Inspiring Stories Behind Them
Through The Inherited Plate, Danielle Rehfeld Colen wants to share other cultures.
After she left Eleven Madison Park in 2011, Rye resident and chef Danielle Rehfeld Colen created The Inherited Plate to save and share people’s family stories, recipes, special regional cooking techniques, and knowledge. “Culinary celebrity was exploding. I wanted to go in the opposite direction, into the homes of home cooks from different parts of the world…to learn what everyday people had to offer,” explains Colen, who was living in New York City at the time.
Photo by Leo Cestari
“I started opening my eyes to all the different people around me who had cool stuff to share, and realized this sharing was very special and intimate,” she says, mentioning a friend from belly dancing class, who shared her family’s recipe for dal and a story about why she leads a high-flying career.
To prepare recipes for her website, Colen cooks the dish with the person who’s sharing it, and makes it again by herself to ensure proper measurements and directions. Videos, family photos, and personal stories are included. She also features recipes from chefs “to learn about dishes that inspired them as kids.”
Colen’s love of cooking was forged during summers spent in the kitchen in Israel with her mother, grandmother, and aunts. Trained at the Institute of Culinary Education, she cooked at Daniel, was a personal chef for 11 years, and had recipes featured in The Riverdale Press, The Boston Globe, and Food52.
Having recently moved to Westchester with her husband, Michael, and their rescue dog, Bowen, Colen hopes to produce The Inherited Plate podcast, recorded live with an audience “to connect and explore more with people in the community,” she says. She cites an interview with friend and chef David Nayfeld — of acclaimed Che Fico in San Francisco — and his mother as to why she loves creating The Inherited Plate. They shared their recipe for draniki, a potato pancake stuffed with chicken from Belarus, and the family’s courageous story of escape from that country. “The description of one simple dish,” she muses thoughtfully, “opens up an entire world to someone’s entire life.”
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