Lessons in Cool: Chef Camilla Marcus

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

When it comes to beautiful, plant-based food, there’s just one name to know: Camilla Marcus. The chef and activist is the founder and CEO of west~bourne, the Soho restaurant turned zero-waste pantry destination. “I have always loved food and its power to forge connection and nourish community," says Marcus. "Living in California surrounded by fresh produce, farmers’ markets and exposure to a wide variety of cultures and cooking sparked my love for creative, plant based cooking and zero waste eating."

My goal with food has always been to harness the superpower of vegetables and show others how plant-based, zero~waste eating can be delicious and sustain the health of our bodies and the planet.

- Camilla Marcus

Her collection of snacks, spices and pantry staples includes everything from granola to dukka to waffle mix—and everything is 100% plant-based. “I always planned to launch a pantry line when the restaurant, west~bourne, was open. We were, in fact, in the logistical stages of developing it when COVID hit and stopped us in our tracks—for a moment,” says Marcus. “I wanted customers to be able to recreate their favorite dishes at home and, importantly, create a one-stop-shop zero~waste pantry retailer.” We recently caught up with the chic foodie to hear more about her philosophy, the food she eats every day, and the products she can’t live without.

Name & occupation:

Camilla Marcus, Activist and Chef, Founder & CEO of west~bourne

First thing you do in the morning:

I’m a slow riser and not really a morning person, truth be told. I wake up to my dogs basically in my face for some solid cuddling, followed by some time with my partner before we wake the kids up together and have a little good morning dance and coffee (for us) with milk (for the kids) session.

Biggest challenge?

I’m a maximizer, someone who wants to make the most of every single day to its fullest extent. So, for me I struggle with always wanting more time and sometimes forgetting to press pause and embrace stillness in my pursuit for fullness. It’s a daily practice to be patient, to accept the beauty of the twists and turns that the journey presents, and to focus on self care. Though I thrive on forward motion, I remind myself that life can’t sustain in fast forward constantly.

My kids inspire me to see each day and the small moments with fresh eyes and open awe.

Who are you inspired by and why?

Becoming a parent has been transformative, and I find that I am learning more than I ever thought possible from my children. My kids inspire me to see each day and the small moments with fresh eyes and open awe. They also help me find clarity around what really matters and what to make space for. Motherhood has been a pure distiller for me and a constant refining of who I want to be for them which in turn shapes who I am in the world. Modeling for them in my daily actions and getting to relive that sense of wonder that children have is a true gift and helped me grow so much within myself.

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Last person you texted:

My team group chat.

Most scrolled app or site:

Probably Spotify / Sonos or Instagram

What are the beauty products you can’t live without:

Your fashion/style icon?

David Bowie

Your go-to:

Breakfast: Coconut or bulgarian yogurt (a friend just introduced me to this) with our west~bourne granola and seeded honey I make with activist manuka and our west~bourne pistachio dukkah plus a drizzle of avocado oil.

Lunch: Often creating a kitchen clean out bowl with soft boiled eggs, avocado, fermented or pickled vegetables and often combining leftovers from the week, topped with our west~bourne chili oil or herb green goddess tahini.

Dinner: We eat a lot of tacos in our house with Caramelo tortillas (I buy them in bulk and freeze them). It’s an ideal dish to incorporate what’s fresh in our garden along with what might be leftover in our refrigerator.

Cocktail: Spicy margarita preferably frozen (when I can drink) or a Ghia spritz.

We have to ask—do you have a favorite west~bourne product?

That’s like asking if I have a favorite child...but at the moment, I can’t get enough of our house granola. Being pregnant and having young kids, it’s literally in my bag 24/7 as a nourishing snack on the go. I also love to grind it in a mortar and pestle and use it as a topping on ice cream. For the morning, it’s the perfect base that we can add different things to—like cacao nibs or dried blueberries—for each person in our family, turning it into a fun granola DIY experience.

Advice you’d give your younger self:

Stop hedging and trust your gut. The time to follow your instincts and chart your own path starts today. The only box you’ll ever be stuck in is the one you create for yourself.

What does “cool” mean to you?

Being unapologetically and authentically yourself, empowered in your own skin.

For more from Camilla, follow her at @camilla.marucs on Instagram.

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