BYO Hawaiian Bowls

Vegetarian? Vegan? Gluten Free? Nut allergy? Onion phobia? These days being a private chef can be challenging. Each week we work hard to dish out new and inspired menus while keeping careful track of everyone’s allergies, intolerances and preferences. It’s not easy and our build-your-own-bowls have quickly become our saving grace and inadvertently our biggest sensations. We prep all the components into separate serve-ware, giving our clients full reign. It’s up to them to decide what they’re in the mood for and don’t think we’re not curious. We really envy that fly on the wall. I mean, it must be kind of crazy coming home to a counter full of mise-en-place and not know what the chef envisioned for the end result. BYO night resembles a quintessential taco night (always my favorite dinner growing up) with all the fixings laid out for you to pick and choose.

Obviously, we know what we would do and it takes all the strength in the world to keep from sprinkling the herbs in with the salad or smearing the garlicky yogurt on the bottom of the platter. We also know it’s true that this is your meal at the end of the day and maybe you had cheese for lunch or you’re just not feeling that tahini drizzle on your sweet potatoes. By far the best news we get is when one of our client’s kids changes their mind about salmon or roasted carrots and I have to think that the BYO is responsible for these little victories.

We also have to think that maybe our clients want some direction. I know from my own life that my BYO dinners usually turn into a show and tell. My boyfriend will say, “I want to see how you do it”. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve explained a menu to a friend or family member forgetting that BYO isn’t a commonplace acronym. Prompting my third recipe-video, I wanted to show how I would construct my own bowl for our clients who are used to this lingo and also respond to the BYO quarries I get from everyone else. We gathered at Laura’s for our usual Friday staff lunch and spent the afternoon prepping ingredients like we would for our clients. Then, with cameras rolling, I constructed my bowl.

A behind-the-scenes look at the BYO Hawaiian Bowl shoot

This bowl, in particular, was taken from one of our weekly menus and happened to be an experiment. As chefs, we’re constantly on the hunt for unique ingredients to broaden our directory of ingredients and culinary repertoire and plantains were one such, exotic thing that sparked our curiosity. It was the first week we had our first glimpse of spring and we were all craving something light and tropical (or maybe a vacation :)). This bowl was the brainchild of our chief menu strategist, Rian, and, lets be honest, no one doubted it’s viability. In the end in was fun to built our own bowls and admire each other’s different plated creations, not to mention walk in our clients shoes for an afternoon.

By far the best part about BYOs is the versatility. If the store doesn’t have mangos, pineapple would make a great substitute. The opportunities for experimentation and adaptability are endless. This is the first BYO video, but it’s certainly not the last. Stay tuned for more BYO demos!

With love, Charlotte.

BYO Hawaiian Bowls (as they appear in the video):

Sticky sushi rice, baby spinach, crispy pan-fried salmon (alt: pan fried tofu or pork carnitas), pan seared plantains, roasted carrots, sliced mango, shaved radish, cucumber moons, blanched edamame, sliced avocado, scallions + cilantro, mandolined jalapeños, tangy cilantro-coconut dressing, toasted sesame seeds (black and white) + pepitas and lime zest

Some other recent BYO favorites that might peak your interest:

BYO Super Green Spring Bowls

Fried or poached eggs, boston + butter lettuce, farro, quartered radish, blanched peas, blanched asparagus, blanched sugar snaps, avocado, cucumber moons, toasted hazelnuts, whipped feta, scallions + basil + mint and lemon + thyme vinaigrette

BYO Steak Cobb Salad Bowls

Seared and sliced steak of choice, brown rice, crumbled bacon, romaine+watercress+endive, cherry tomatoes, avocado, pickled red onion, radish, crumbled blue cheese, hard boiled eggs, crispy chickpeas, roasted sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes –, cucumber moons, parsley + chives and red wine-dijon vinaigrette

BYO Glazed Korean Meatball Bowls

Korean glazed meatballs (alt. tofu), butter lettuce, brown rice, roasted shiitake mushrooms, sauteed baby bok choy, blanched broccolini, avocado, cucumber, toasted black and white sesame seeds, scallions + cilantro, ginger dressing)

BYO Honey-Dijon Roasted Pork Tenderloin Bowls

Fluffy quinoa, thinly sliced apples, roasted sweet potato cubes, arugula + baby spinach, dried cranberries, cucumber, avocado, goat cheese, mint, toasted slivered almonds, apple cider vinaigrette

Feel free to ask about any of these recipes or preparations in the comments section!

Salty-Sweet Olive Oil Granola

Granola with dried fruit and nuts and coconut

At What We Eat, we tend to focus mainly on the final meal of the day. We spend most of our day shopping, organizing and preparing dinners for our clients to enjoy. So, by the time the evening rolls around, our stomachs are growling and our imaginations are going wild with all the possibilities we’ve been dreaming up for our own dinner throughout the day. Yes, from the time I wake up, my mind is focused on the end of the day, at which point I know I’ll be enjoying a delicious meal and relaxing for a few hours before it all begins again.

Granola with pumpkin seeds, almonds and dried fruit

But what about the morning? Have I forgotten the saying breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Why must I rush through the day to what I consider is arguably the best part, only to disregard the sweet beginnings of a fresh start, each new day full of possibilities!

While most clients do not request it, breakfast is one of our favorite meals to prep. In fact, I jump at the chance to do a catered brunch party. (Which has happened approximately once. Cue six am wakeup call to shop and walk to the Lower East Side.) Let us not even begin to wax poetic about all-things-egg-based, but instead think about sweeter options. Chia puddings, baked oatmeals and granolas provide endless variations to jumpstart the day. In particular, one of my favorites is our salty sweet olive oil granola. We made it this summer as a product to sell at Copper Beech in Bellport, Long Island, and then again as a surprise thank-you gift to our clients this holiday season.

Driving to Copper Beech Long Island
Laura and I en route to Copper Beech

What makes this granola so addictive is the perfect balance between salty and sweet. Add in the depth of flavor achieved by the slowly toasted nuts and the fact that the dried fruit of choice is chopped dates. (It is just a fact that there literally is no better dried fruit. Remember that.) While you can always simply ask us to whip you up a batch, because it will undoubtedly be prepared with love, you could also give it a go yourself! Try out this shelf-stable treat this weekend. It’ll last a while, but my bet is that the granola will be devoured before it spoils.

With love, Kristina


Salty-Sweet Olive Oil Granola

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼-1/3 cup light brown sugar (do smaller amount if you prefer less sweet)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 + tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup chopped dates, coarsely chopped (added after cooking)
  • Maldon salt to taste (optional)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place oats, pumpkins seeds, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, light brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Taste it raw. You should enjoy the salter sweet flavor even now. If you feel one element is overpowering the other, add a little more sugar or salt to correct seasoning. On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread raw granola mixture in an even layer and transfer to oven. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the mixture every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. When the granola is fully toasted and dry to the touch, remove tray from oven and allow to cool completely. Stir in chopped dates and enjoy! (Salt lovers feel free to add a dash of Maldon salt over the cooling granolaJ)