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March 01, 2024

Meet Camilla

founder of west~bourne.

Meet Camilla

Named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business, Camilla Marcus is a chef, entrepreneur, activist, and mother of three who is challenging conventional ideas about our food systems and environmental stewardship. Drawing from her Californian roots, she started west~bourne as New York City's first zero-waste certified restaurant and has now expanded its mission of eating well and doing better into a collection of regenerative, carbon neutral provisions for the modern home.

Committed to cross-industry innovation, Camilla's endeavors range from championing regenerative farming to reshaping the hospitality landscape. She co-founded ROAR (Restaurants Organizing Advocating Rebuilding) and is a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC). In addition, her passion extends to crafting a more equitable childcare system for working mothers. Camilla is also a member of the Fast Company Impact Council and part of the invitation-only Google Food Lab think tank.

 

Every story has it’s path, how did you end up working in food?

It's actually funny, I feel like I'm one of the few chefs where it's not a family business. I always loved restaurants and food— it's definitely how I express myself. I knew I wanted to go to culinary school and explore the industry, so I went right after college. Much to my college guidance counselor's dismay because at the time it wasn't seen seriously. It was definitely a gamble that worked out.

Post culinary school I began my career in investing and business development for CIM Group and Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group in which I fell more in love with the industry. My passion has always been about bringing food and sustainability together. It's the thing we spend the most amount of time, energy, and capital on. We make more decisions about food and beverage in our daily lives than anything else, and I've always felt that that could have such a tremendous collective impact.

Why Avocado Oil?

We created a product that I felt was really missing in the market and something I wanted in my cooking. I think it's interesting how little known avocado oil is because it's actually the perfect oil. It's neutral, it can go sweet or savory, it's a 1:1 for butter, but it's also really high in great nutrients and good fats. It's one of the few foods they say you can live on in the desert alone. It really is like the ultimate superfood but also [has a] really high smoke point.

I use the 100% pure avocado oil in all my baking, I use it on my grill—absolutely everything. Then, I use the extra virgin for finishing. I put it on ice cream. Honestly, I put it on my elbows—it's actually an amazing inside and outside beauty product.

What informs your approach to food?

For me it’s all about cooking holistically to nourish yourself and our planet. What’s good for our soil is always better for our health.

What does a great gathering look like to you?

Quality time is my love language, so it’s sacred to me to find ways to forge connection and community.  I love to bring guests into the gathering, whether that’s bringing a dish, helping with a playlist, or sharing their favorite local produce with someone else. I also always strive for an element of surprise, bringing together people who don’t know one another, providing space to feature someone’s talents, doing a shared activity to learn a new skill, or even introducing a new product or food. 

What are your signature dishes for gatherings?

I actually love to cook something new every time if I can, and I often have never made exactly what I serve before. I think I love the thrill of a challenge and discovery that makes the experience of cooking for me come alive and where I learn the most.  It adds more pressure to execution, but playing jazz in the kitchen if you will for me infuses vibrancy and surprise that just can’t be scripted and a soul that I think you can taste even if you can’t put your finger quite on it.

As a founder, how do you take care of yourself and prevent burnout? Any go-to self-care products that are an essential part of your day or week, that help to keep you grounded?

As a founder, self-care is essential. I prioritize taking care of my physical and mental well-being by practicing meditation, exercising regularly, and spending time in nature. In terms of self-care, whether it’s starting the day with clean skincare, a quiet moment with an espresso, or unwinding with a bath, I find it essential to take time to care for myself. As a mama of three, I’ve found you can’t pour from an empty cup. By prioritizing ourselves in both big and small ways I find I can show up better, clearer, and more wholeheartedly for myself and my family.

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