Open Sesame: Meet Zoë François!
March 08, 2021

Open Sesame: Meet Zoë François!

I am often asked for thoughts on favorite cookbooks or favorite foodie Instagram accounts. While there are too many to name in one place, there is TRULY no one I love more than Zoë François from @zoebakes.

Watching Zoë in the kitchen is pure joy. It's honestly hard not to smile from ear to ear watching her new Magnolia Network Show, reading her recipes or appreciating her exquisite food photography.   

We are counting down the days for our copy of her new book to arrive, Zoë Bakes Cakes. There's still time to pre-order a copy (before March 15th), earning you a bonus pack of exclusive extra recipes. 

Thank you Zoë for letting us get to know you a bit better!

Q: What are some of the tunes in your kitchen playlist?
I have been known to go from Bob Dylan to Drake in a single recipe, usually with a bit of bossa nova in the mix as well. Somehow they make sense rhythmically to me. A recipe will provoke a feeling and the soundtrack follows.

Q: What’s the last thing you ate that brought you joy?
Pizza with pesto and Mortadella. The pizza was served outside at the first restaurant I have been to since August 2020. It was such a lovely treat.

Q: What's an ingredient that you love that you think people underestimate?
Rhubarb. A rhubarb pie or crisp is the ultimate dessert. It hits the balance of sweet and tart. It is also the first thing to pop out of the ground every spring, so it symbolizes having survived another MN winter.

Q: Who are your culinary heroes?
I have so many. I admire Dorie Greenspan's career and the legacy she has created as a cookbook author so much. She is the very best of her craft and the most generous and lovely person. There are so many women who have shaped my baking and career, mostly through their books and baking. Julia Child, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Flo Braker, Maida Heatter, Abby Dodge, Lindsey Shere, Claudia Fleming and Michelle Gayer, just to name a few.

Q: Favorite Sunday night dinner?
Pasta or Pho (but that may be true for any night of the week).

Q: Favorite food travel destination?
I love Italy for food. I was really delighted by the food in Istanbul. The bread alone was a revelation. I still have a lot of traveling left to do. After reading Sababa, by Adeena Sussman, I really want to eat in Israel. 

Q: What's your go-to, most failsafe recipe?
Spaghetti and meatballs. I don't cook a lot, but I make very good meatballs. There is always lots of bread, pie and cake, but not always dinner at my house! ;)

Q: What seasonal fruit or vegetable do you count down the days for?
Rhubarb. I love that I got to mention it twice! I even did the first episode of my show on Magnolia Network about rhubarb.

Q: What's a “foodie” related book, podcast, or movie you love?
Babette's Feast, I just watched it again last month. Even the tray of fruit she serves is super sexy. 

Q: Which restaurant are you missing the most during this pandemic? Or is there a secret travel destination restaurant you would like to share?
My beloved Quang, a local Vietnamese restaurant in MN. I also love Lotus of Siam in Vegas and sitting at the bar at Buvette in NYC.

Q: What kitchen smell is most nostalgic for you?
Bread and Granola are the two things I remember most about the kitchen when I was little.

Q: Something people would be surprised to learn about you!
I didn't eat sugar when I first went to culinary school. I was going through a phase of only eating honey, maple syrup and other "natural" sweeteners. I got seduced by the magic of sugar at the CIA. There was just no way to create the pastries I wanted to be making without it. I use a mix of all of them.

One last thought from Zoë... 
You didn't ask, but my mom always had a block of halva in our refrigerator. It was really the only sweet we had in the house. I'd swing open the door and cut a sliver off and go on my way. I too always have blocks of halva in my refrigerator, it's so satisfying and comforting. ...We couldn't agree more!