Friend of Graza: Caitlin Hubner
Q: How do you describe yourself?
A: I’m a doer, a hustler, an executor, a mom, a single-item baker, I <3 NY.
Q: Finish this sentence: Cooking for me is…
A: Like drawing a perfect freehand circle; satisfying, makes me feel a sense of accomplishment.
Q: What are your pantry staples and why?
A: Rice vinegar and fish sauce plus good quality oil (ahem: Graza!) - they’re staples because of their versatility - and they work together with all fresh/dried/other pantry ingredients.
Q: What's your current favorite grocery store find or obsession?
A: Amanoya Himemaru Rice Crackers (wasabi or original - I have a bag in my house at all times), any flavor Bada Bean Bada Boom (incredible snack and name), and Trader Joes dark chocolate peanut butter cups (in the freezer).
Q: What's your go-to crowd-pleaser meal?
A: Moroccan chicken tagine with lemon & olives or spaghetti limone—I clearly have a thing for citrus!
Q: Who do you turn to, watch, or follow for food inspiration?
A: When I was cooking full time I had a hard time watching food content because it felt totally overwhelming, so I was a little late to the game in following/being up on what’s out there. I feel like I have to decide to consume it so I’m not consumed by it, ya know? Since I started Cait's Key Lime as a side-project, it allowed me to fall back in love with the food world since I’m not 10 toes down in it at all times. Some cooks/creatives I love following; Carla Lalli-Music (queen), Dan Pelosi (I love that his food is unfussy but special - that’s what I like to eat), LEV (very cool to watch what they’re doing), and my friend and incredibly talented Chef Kia Damon (I’ll have whatever she’s cooking).
Q: Favorite dessert (besides your own)?
A: There are 3 (other) perfect desserts in NYC: Mister Softee soft-serve with rainbow sprinkles (I have a gold Mister Softee custom made charm necklace), Kiki’s cheesecake, cantaloupe ice at The Lemon Ice King of Corona (a perfect place, no notes).
Q: What’s one piece of advice or a practice you see in the food world you think is overrated, overly aspirational, unhelpful, or is otherwise just not the vibe?
A: Homemade versions of things that are perfect as is. Please stop making your own ketchup!
Q: What are your all-around life mottos, mantras, philosophies that guide you in the kitchen?
A: You know, I was shocked to find out that Olive Garden changed their motto “when you’re here, you’re family.” It’s actually both perfect and iconic, so it’s mine now - that’s my motto. In terms of my own cooking, I am guided a lot by nostalgia—flavors that remind me of of a feeling, a time, a place really influence my cooking.
Q: How has your cooking changed since becoming a mom?
A: I am now a FREEZER QUEEN! I have every single protein, organic fruit and veg, bread, literally 500 meatballs, huge bags of dumplings from Chinatown, everything packed and labeled in my freezer – this allows me to quickly throw together dinner for a very hungry small person and maximize our time together in the evenings.
Q: What is it about key lime pie? How did you start making this dessert and what do you love about it?
A: Cait’s Key Lime was born (like many great things these days!) from a pandemic craving and an inability to find anything to satisfy it in NYC. I love a salty, tart, slightly sweet dessert and love that there are (literally) layers to it. I also love that it’s a food with a cult following and STRONG opinions one way or another – one of the things I hear most is that people don’t historically like it, but they love mine.
Q: What's on the horizon for you!
A: Working on accessibility and logistical growth – I would like everyone in NYC (first, then beyond) to be able to get a pie when they want it, without having to order/plan - more of a readily accessible presence in local markets/restaurants. I’d also love to take this show on the road and do popups in different cities - Cait’s Key Lime on tour. I would love to nail down nationwide shipping! Lastly, since day one my goal has been to have pies at Yankee Stadium (@ the Steinbrenner’s – hit my line). XOXO
Photography by Pauline Chatelan.