Friend of Graza: Caitlin Hubner

Friend of Graza: Caitlin Hubner

We talked to Caitlin Hubner, the force behind Cait's Key Lime (aka the best key lime pie in the game) on the pandemic craving that started it all, stepping up her freezer game since becoming a mom, and getting her pies to Yankee Stadium!

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.