VANESSA LEE

VANESSA LEE

MEALS WITH FRIENDS

Model Vanessa Lee on the genesis of her delectable, culinary-inspired video series.

Lee shops New York City's Union Square Friday Greenmarket, all photography by Sania Tharani

I moved to New York City in 2015, and on the plane ride over [from London], I came across a video by [filmmaker] CASEY NEISTAT. I’d watched other vlogs before, but they all were so boring.

Casey’s had me hooked, though.

I thought, ‘I love watching these, maybe I should try making one?’

I’d been modeling for more than two years, but other than some television commercials, I’d never made a video before.

This happened as I was moving in with a friend and we began hosting dinner parties for our crew of actors, models, surfers, and the like at our apartment.

My roommate is vegan, and I’m the opposite — a total junk food fiend.

As we started to cook together, she’d teach me things about kale and other superfoods.

‘This is interesting,’ I thought. ‘I should start filming us in the kitchen.’

Several months ago, when I began making my videos, I couldn’t cook anything beyond the simple stuff — pasta, eggs, avocado toast — I first learned to make while I living in a model apartment.

Now I know recipes for zucchini brownies, vegan sushi, beet hummus, and other fancy stuff.

The videos have evolved, too, from a mishmash of me doing things on any given day to a style I call ‘Martha Stewart meets Amy Schumer meets The Real World.’

I’ll film from the moment I arrive at the home of whatever friend is cooking that day until we sit down to eat together.

The first couple were hard to watch — I had to teach myself everything I now know about filming and editing. But now more and people reach out asking to be in them.

Food is something that really brings people together, especially in a city like New York.

My friends are my family here and we bond over what we eat.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher shares favorites from her stockpile of serving bowls, inside the Los Angeles office of restaurateur Harry Morton.