The duo behind the Opening Ceremony boutiques throw stupendous parties with great food. Their secret weapon: co-founder Humberto Leon's mom.
Wendy Leon with actress Chloë Sevigny. Photo © Caleb Lin.
"We're kind of more into food than we are into fashion," says Humberto Leon. That's an astonishing statement from the co-owner (with Carol Lim) of the ultrahip clothing store Opening Ceremony, which has outposts in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. The pair are known for championing brilliant indie designers like Band of Outsiders and collaborating with tastemakers like actress Chloë Sevigny (left) on clothing lines, but their stores reveal their food obsession, too. The Tokyo shop, for instance, has a restaurant named Potluck that serves coffee from cult roaster Blue Bottle Coffee Co. and an East-West mix of dishes. "Japanese restaurants don't offer brunch, so we do make-your-own omelets," Humberto says. "And we brought [the Vietnamese sandwich] banh mi to Japan." A Potluck cookbook is in the works as well.
Opening Ceremony boutique. Photo © Caleb Lin.
Humberto attributes his food fixation in part to his mother, Wendy, a Hong Kong–raised chef and caterer who cooks more than 20 dainty courses for Opening Ceremony's parties. For a 55-person dinner co-hosted with hip-hop artist M.I.A. in honor of fashion designer Alexander Wang, she created dishes like avocado-pepper summer rolls with chile-lime dipping sauce. "In Chinese, we have a saying: You eat first with your eyes, then your nose, then your mouth," she says. Her recipes on the following pages engage all these senses.
Making Picky Eaters Happy
Wendy Leon, who caters her son's Opening Ceremony parties, tells how she handles the special needs of celebrity guests.
- No meat
Leon likes to braise pork belly in a five-spice broth, then top it with a fermented tofu sauce. But for actor Jason Schwartzman, a vegetarian, she swapped out the pork belly for tofu.
Director Spike Jonze doesn't care for mushrooms, so Leon modified her pork-loaf recipe for him, substituting cubes of pressed tofu for the shiitake.
Most spring rolls contain shrimp, but for guests who don't eat seafood, Leon makes a vegetable version with Shanghai-style shrimp served on the side. RELATED: Chefs Reveal How to Find Authentic Chinese Food