Lessons In Cool: Jill & Tiana of The Culinistas

  • Written By:Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor
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Welcome to Lessons In Cool, a new series all about the people we’re constantly inspired by. They are tastemakers, curators of style, thought leaders, and well, just cool.

Jill Donenfeld and Tiana Tenet are the founders behind The Culinistas, a full-service, in-home private chef company that makes healthy eating easy and accessible. Tiana began her career working in finance, but always had a love for all things culinary. Jill dove into the food industry while in college, writing restaurant reviews, working with a caterer, and working as a private chef. When they met in 2017, they both realized they were each other's ideal business partners and their business endeavor was born.

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The Culinistas make it possible for you to take advantage of a full-time chef without the time or cost required to manage a full-time employee. Your chef will plan your menu, hit the grocery store, cook, and clean up, which means you don’t have to worry about a thing. Whether you need help with weekly dinners or are hosting a big event (you know, sometime in the post-covid future), they will have your back. We caught up with the duo to hear more about their favorite recipes, personal style, and what cool means to them.

Name & Occupation:

Jill Donenfeld and Tiana Tenet, Founders of The Culinistas

Describe yourself in 3 words:

Jill: Truth, Reason, Silliness

Tiana: Loyal, Ambitious & Open-minded

First thing you do when you wake up:

Jill: Lay in bed & think for a while. After that, there’s no pattern, but I always make my bed.

Tiana: Grab a fresh cup of coffee, turn on Sonos and check my emails.

The beauty products you can’t live without

Jill:

Tiana:

Cool means smart without hubris.

- Jill Donenfeld

Your style uniform is..

Jill: Tiana always says that everything I own has a story to it. This is a huge compliment. I am most always wearing something that a friend has handed down to me, or something from high school, or something I purchased while living or traveling in another country. I am currently wearing Levi’s that my friend Joy gave me a decade ago, a BeBe maroon velvet boat neck tank that my sixth grade boyfriend gave me for Christmas in 1995, and a J. Crew cream cashmere cardigan that my college roommate, Eva, handed down to me. I am nostalgic to the point of detriment at times.

Tiana: My style is fairly simple...fitted straight leg jeans, a white tee and the perfect pair of heels. It's all about the shoes.

The song you have on repeat

Jill: Satori Part III by Flower Travellin’ Band; Brain Damage by Pink Floyd; Heaven Can Wait by Charlotte Gainsbourg & Beck; Moonchild by King Crimson.

Tiana: This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads; Skinny Love by Bon Iver; Beast of Burden by Rolling Stones; Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

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Recipe you’ve perfected:

Jill: I feel somewhat inclined to mention here that I wrote a cookbook about toast, so, while I don’t think any recipe is ever perfected because every time I make anything it’s always a little different, I do feel I can vouch for things on toast. We have a wonderful Marinated Shrimp Salad in The Culinistas repertoire which is a riff on a recipe from the toast book, which is a riff on a recipe that my grandma Thelma gave me, and I’d say I nail that every time. (Editor’s note: Jill has written four cookbooks!)

Tiana: My family's famous sausage bread. I originally learned the recipe from my great aunt (who probably learned it from her great aunt) and my mom has made it for family and friends for as long as I can remember. I always loved the dish, but I swapped one ingredient and slightly changed the preparation process and I think I've perfected it.

Last person you texted

Jill: A girl group text made up of four of the coolest girls I’ve ever met in my life. Sophia; she’s a florist & my best friend. Lauren, she’s a poet & an illustrator. Lori, she’s a baker. And Arna, she’s a photographer.

Tiana: A group thread with my husband, sister and brother-in-law who are based in HK. We've had the thread going all day, everyday for the past 11 years. I'll get backlash later on if I don't use this time to mention that my brother-in-law is much cooler than my sister.

Being 100% committed & genuine to who & what you are truly meant to be.

- Tiana Tenet

What does “cool” mean to you?

Jill: Cool means smart without hubris. Suffice to say, great hair and a great ass can only get one so far.

Tiana: Being 100% committed & genuine to who & what you are truly meant to be. I love magic, reading The Economist on the weekends and Sine Non Qua — I think I'm pretty cool. Jill loves Socrates, pottery and the jazz club — she's even cooler.

For more from Jill and Tiana, be sure to follow @theculinistas.

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