Friend of Graza: Shannon Maldonado

Friend of Graza: Shannon Maldonado

The founder and creative director of YOWIE on her pantry staples, where she finds "drool-worthy" new dining spots, and watching Seinfeld while she cooks. 

Q: How do you describe yourself?

A: A generally curious and positive person who enjoys old movies, the story arch of most Bar Rescue episodes, Elton John and Britney Spears’ b-sides, working with artists and eating good food. I’m also a creative person that curates a shop, designs interiors and products. I usually have a meme for any occasion or 1,000s of song lyrics bubbling in my head at any given time.

Q: You’ve done a lot of creative work in your career! How did you come to run a whole store - and a future hotel?

A: I’ve always made things for as long as I can remember which started to really take shape when my mother taught me to sew when I was about 10. Since then I went to school for Fashion (FIT, ‘05) and have worked for brands like American Eagle, Ralph Lauren and Urban Outfitters designing everything from kids dresses to women’s jeans. In 2016 I hit a creative wall and started YOWIE online. In 2017, I opened our small storefront and I am proud to say next year we’re opening a boutique Hotel + larger shop under the YOWIE namesake. It's very surreal and exciting!

Q: Finish this sentence. Cooking for me is:

A: A new hobby that makes me so happy

Q: What are your pantry staples and why?

A: Olive Oil, Chili Flakes, Ginger, Parmesan Cheese (grated and shredded), Maldon Salt, Fly by Jing Chili Crisp, Honey Grow Honey Ginger Salad Dressing. I’m still not great at cooking but have figured out a few quick recipes like broccoli fried rice and always will just toss some tomatoes in a pan with pasta if our fridge is running light.

Q: What’s your go-to crowd-pleasing dish, and what sides do you make to go with it?

A: My friend Julia Saha made this pasta dish for our shop blog that I make all the time. It's a coconut-tomato pasta dish.

Q: What music sets the right vibe for cooking or hosting, or both?

A: To be honest we usually have old Seinfeld on in the background but if I was hosting I’d probably create play Solange radio on Spotify.

Q: What’s one hosting or cooking tip you’d give 2017 you?

A: Just keep going till it tastes good. And use less heat. I tended to burn things, A LOT.

Q: Who do you turn to, watch, or follow for food inspiration?

A: I follow Bon App, and sometimes grab a recipe from NY Times Cooking. I also love Emily Schultz. She sometimes showcases her cooking but more so shares spots that are drool worthy and that I want to try.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you see in the food world you think is overrated, overly aspirational, unhelpful, or is otherwise just not the vibe?

A: Tiny plates of minimal food is just not my thing. Maybe in part because it makes me think of American Psycho? I want the big saucy portion even if it’s overwhelming to share with my boyfriend Dave.

Q: What are your all-around life mottos, mantras, philosophies?

A: Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Listen to your gut, Always look up!

Q: Anyone you’d like to give special thanks to?

A: So many people have gotten me and YOWIE to where it is today but I’d love to thank my best friend Katie. There’s a lot of stress, uncertainty and tears behind the scenes of running and scaling a small business (on our own terms and money) and she is always there for me to pass a funny meme, sound advice or just let me wallow and be dramatic. She’s my unofficial COO and the best person I know that is always in my corner.