Having a fabulous kitchen and enough space to host a 16 guest dinner party in a small space sounds impossible right? Well, private chef and entrepreneur Sarah Schiear has her priorities right because she’s accomplished just that in her Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment. We couldn’t be more jealous of her copper clad kitchen and cohesive nature inspired space. Her plants are her pets, and she’s got enough of them (and beautiful natural light) to make up for her lack of outdoor space.
After Sarah placed third on ABC’s The Taste, her cooking career was launched. She co-founded ABODE pop-up restaurant at the Old Bowery Station. Through her interactions at ABODE, she began cooking privately for customers in their homes for dinners and parties. She’s booked some clients we’d all like to have, like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (amazing!). Sarah now dedicates her time to Salt House, her online retail website that features kitchenware and aprons for those of us who know our way around the kitchen.
Keep reading to find out more about how Sarah created this swoon-worthy space (hint: there’s a discount code on design services involved!), her incredible entrepreneurial journey, and life in New York City.
Name: Sarah Schiear
Current job/company: Private Chef & Founder of Salt House
Education: Business, University of Miami
What was your first job out of school and how did you land it?
I worked in finance, in a training program in the wealth management division of UBS. I had had an internship there during my senior year, so it was a natural progression. I worked there for two years and realized that it wasn’t for me. I also worked in media planning and as the editor of a recipe website after that.
I realized that New York held opportunities I wasn’t going to find in Florida, and even though I wasn’t sure what they were yet, I knew I had to find out.
Outside of living in Miami for college, have you always lived in New York? If no, what brought you to the city? What do you appreciate about it most?
I lived in Fort Lauderdale after Miami before moving to NYC. Being on The Taste (a competitive cooking show on ABC) was what inspired the move. Being removed from my comfort zone to film in LA exposed me to a lot of creative people doing unique things in the food space. Ultimately, I realized that New York held opportunities I wasn’t going to find in Florida, and even though I wasn’t sure what they were yet, I knew I had to find out.
Walk us through a typical day for you.
Scheduling has been the key to success! I’m also in the process of expanding the team and hiring a part-time assistant and editor (inquiries welcome!). I don’t do outside catering as much anymore, as I’m currently more focused with Salt House.
A typical day starts early. I wake up around 5 a.m. with no alarm clock—I love being up before the rest of the world and having that quiet time. I have warm water, coffee (stovetop espresso with homemade almond milk that I always have on hand), a quick read of something inspiring and a 20-minute meditation. I then get a few solid hours of work done before heading to a late morning yoga class.
Work might include planning events for the next quarter, a call with my designer who is based in Philly to discuss upcoming projects, a brainstorm session for a new digital video series we’re working on, or meetings with advisors and consultants who are involved in Salt House’s expansion. And then there are events that take place in the space, including everything from networking breakfasts to influencer dinners to video shoots for brands.
You’ve listed Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen among your clients. What is the range of work you do for clients?
I cook for dinner parties and events for clients. Everything from birthday parties to cocktail parties. I also work with brands, curating influencer dinners, and editorial launches.
Your space is to die for! How did you decide on aesthetic?
I knew that I wanted to keep it mostly black and white with touches of wood, brass, copper, and other natural elements—and plenty of plants. From there, finding key pieces like the rug just happened naturally and then I built other items around it. That helped build the color story for the gallery wall, for example.
You created your space with the help of Havenly, and you’re giving readers 20% off with the code SALTHOUSE 20% (thank you very much!). What was that process like?
Havenly offers design consulting services for a low flat fee per room. As the client, you send in photos of the space and what your style is and then they come up with a design, choosing the pieces you’ll need and even doing all of the ordering for you. I had my design pretty flushed out, but they were invaluable in showing me what everything would look like together in the renderings. It was so nice to be able to switch out details like art pieces or pillows until it was exactly right.
It took you a couple months to get everything looking just the way you wanted. What was that process like?
A lot of waiting on shipments! That’s the hardest part. Every furniture maker and online source is on a different lead-time.
Do you have a favorite piece or space in your apartment that you’re particularly proud of?
I have to go with the kitchen. I love the white and brass pot-rack filled with copper pots. But I also love the black and white striped wall with all of my curated vintage glassware.
When looking for your apartment, what were the goals you had in mind for the space? Were there any must haves on your checklist?
I knew I needed a big table that would sit a lot of people for a dinner party. I was even ready to forgo a living area if I had to! Luckily, I found this great table from Z Gallerie that has extensions. It seats 12 as is now, but if I want to seat more, I can move it to take up the whole length of the space and add the extensions, seating up to 16 or 18.
You live in a small space but everything looks bright and clean and open. What are some challenges that you deal with living in a small space? Any lessons you had to learn or tips you have for us?
Get creative and organized with storage space and choose items that serve multiple purposes. I have rattan storage bins that double as extra dining seating, for example.
Coolest moment of your career?
Seeing Salt House Studio come together, for sure. It was incredible to have this vision and then see the finished product. Also, it’s been such a joy to work with products of brands I’ve loved forever, like Mauviel and Le Creuset.
Advice you’d give your 23-year-old self?
If you find something that feels good and magnetic to you, keep doing it. I never could have imagined where my love of cooking would go. I had a blog that I kept even though I had a demanding job and I didn’t know where it would lead. Keep going!
Sarah is The Everygirl…
Perfect weekend in NYC?
Drinks with friends and my favorite burger at Allswell (it’s a must!), a yoga class at my studio, a trip to the Whitney during the day, a run over the Williamsburg bridge, brunch at Reynard at the Wythe Hotel, and maybe a cocktail upstairs at The Ides for the best views of the city.
Dinner cooked at home (bonus points if the guy does the cooking!), wine, and a fireplace. Or, out to Roberta’s!
Depends on the season. In the colder months, I’m all about a full-bodied red wine, smoky scotch (like Ardbeg) or mezcal served neat, or a cocktail made with bourbon, ginger, lemon, and honey. In spring and summer, it’s rose all day, Sauvignon blanc, a spicy margarita, or something with gin and lavender.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Right now, I’m working on expanding Salt House into an experiential lifestyle marketplace. In five years, I see the first NYC location rocking and rolling, and perhaps planning for our next location in a market like LA or San Francisco.
If you could have dinner with one woman, who would it be and what would you order (or create)?
I think Oprah and I would make some pretty great tacos.
Chaise, Kristin Drohan
Coffee Table, West Elm
Rug, Rug Studio
Rattan Storage Bins, Crate & Barrel
Acapulco Chair, All Modern
Mongolian Ottoman, West Elm
Brass Bookshelf, West Elm
Floor Lamp, West Elm
Hanging Planters, West Elm
Glassware, Vintage & Riedel
Custom Shades, Dr. Shade
Black & White Wall Stripes, Paintzen
KITCHEN AND DINING
Dining Table, Z Gallerie
Counter Stools, LexMod
Custom Neon Sign, Lite Brite Neon
Woven Table Runner, West Elm
Hanging Pot Rack, Wayfair
Bar Cart, Matthew James Design
Candle Sticks, CB2
Copper Stand Mixer, KitchenAid
Copper Cookware, Mauviel
Dutch Oven, Le Creuset
Knives, Shun Cutlery
Wooden Crates, Home Depot
Copper Tea Kettle, Old Dutch
Painting, Renee Phillips
Wishbone Chair, Overstock
Desk, IKEA (similar here)
Marble Lamp, West Elm
Shibori Curtains, Etsy
Venice Duvet Set, Parachute Home
Dresser, Urban Outfitters
Storage Bed, Wayfair
Shower Curtain, Amazon
Storage Baskets, CB2
Bath Mat, CB2
Marble Bath Accessories, CB2
Bamboo Hamper, Wayfair
Wooden Shelves, The Container Store