Mother Essentials: Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections
Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
If you need some summer entertainment inspiration—from picnics to backyard BBQs—today’s Mother Essentials roundup will come in extra-handy. Our list-maker is none other than Valerie Gordon—a celebrated chocolatier, chef, and entrepreneur whose creative vision has elevated Los Angeles-based Valerie Confections (creator of the famed Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake) into one of the country’s most respected confectionery brands. The James Beard finalist cookbook author (Sweet, 2013), cooking show judge, Substacker, and mom to August, 16, and Gee Gee, 11, is also a lover of fellow women-owned businesses and not-so-precious materials. “At this point, my entire wardrobe is almost entirely made by female-founded companies,” she explains of her list. “When it comes to my home, my aesthetic leans heavily into earth tones and natural materials. I love timeless pieces that aren’t too fussy or precious. We entertain a lot, with both kids and adults, so our dinnerware needs to be comfortable for everyone.” Check out her inspiring favorites below!
Duster. “I already live in this new line from my friend Melissa Magsaysay and Andrea Racey. The idea is that they’re re-envisioning the house dress, and the results are effortlessly chic and tailored. It’s already becoming my summer uniform.” ShopDuster.com.
Natalie Martin. “I met Los Angeles-based designer Natalie Martin over 20 years ago when I taught yoga and she handled the front desk at the same studio. We both launched our eponymous brands many years ago, started families, and cheer each other’s accomplishments. Her collection evolves each year and her dresses are mainstays in my wardrobe. They’re the type of pieces you could throw on to go to the beach, out to lunch with friends, or to dinner. So versatile and California cool.” NatalieMartinCollection.com.
Frank & Eileen Italian Denim Shirts. “I’ve never been a chef’s coat person, but I definitely have a uniform of sorts at work. As my company has grown, I’ve found that uniform needs to flow from kitchen to meetings and back again. The button-up shirts from Frank & Eileen are truly perfection. The Italian denim is durable—I have yet to see a stain—but doesn’t feel utilitarian at all.” Distressed Vintage Wash Button-Up, $278, Frank & Eileen.
Perfect White Tee T-Shirts & Sweatpants. “I met Jen Menchaca last year at soccer practice. She was wearing a grey, fleece sweat set that I had recently acquired…of course I immediately said, ‘Hey, I just got that set.’ And she replied, ‘These are from my company!’ We always talk about this fortunate chance meeting through our daughters’ soccer team. Jen started this line of well-designed loungewear, which completely blew up during the pandemic. Now, I’m devoted to the sweatpants for lounging around the house and my regular neighborhood walks with friends. No matter what sort of cut you like—wide-legged or more cropped—these comfy sweatpants still look put-together.” T-Shirt, $70, Sweatpants, $66-$110, Perfect White Tee.
Parachute Linens.” Truly, the perfect bed coverings for summer. The linens from Parachute are light and luxurious. When I finally make it to bed at the end of the day, I relish in the sensation of resting my head on these soft fabrics.” Linen Bedding, $69-$340, Parachute.
Our Place Glasses. “These stackable glasses are sturdy and chic. I use them for cocktails, sparkling water, spritzers, really everything.” Night + Day Glasses, $50, Our Place.
Big Green Egg. “The Big Green Egg is, by far, my preferred grill for outdoor cooking and entertaining. It’s so versatile: You can grill, smoke, roast, and use it as an outdoor oven. I love the BGE so much that we have one at our company headquarters in Glendale.” BigGreenEgg.com.
OSEA Malibu Undaria Body Polish. “We all need a good scrub to slough off dead summer skin (especially us ladies in our fifties). OSEA’s is made with seaweed and volcanic pumice to exfoliate, and has oils to hydrate at the same time. It’s a win-win.” Undaria Algae Body Polish, $48, OSEA.
Wellness East Alpinia Shell Ginger Glow Oil. “As a food professional, I’m constantly washing my hands. I keep a bottle of Wellness East Ginger Oil in my office to soothe my tired hands. It absorbs quickly and instantly moisturizes.” Alpinia Shell Ginger Glow Oil, $40, Wellness East.
Valerie Chocolates. “When I am gifting a box from our collection, I generally go with the Baby Grand—18 pieces of chocolates including toffees, truffles, and caramels. And I always have one in my office! And the Petits Fours Bouquet is so feminine and summery, I love serving it with an outdoor tea during the day or Champagne in the evening. The flavors are Lemon, Lavender, Rose Petal, and Earl Grey.” Baby Grand Assortment, $50, Valerie Confections. Petit Four Bouquet, $55, Valerie Confections.
Walks With Friends. “My friends and I call ourselves GLOW, for Glorious Ladies on a Walk. Hilarious, I know. But our regular long walks together help keep me centered and give me a chance to reconnect with the amazingly smart, funny, talented women in my life.”
Family Picnics. “My family loves picnics, we started doing them when our son, August (now 16) was a toddler. We found it the easiest way to socialize with other families during the summer in a park or in someone’s garden. Now, packing a basket and meeting friends during the summer is a tradition we continue every year.”
Nomadica. “The best canned wine out there. I fell hard for this product during the pandemic, and my affections have not shifted. The red is delightful chilled and a 4-can set can easily tuck into a picnic basket.” ExploreNomadica.com.
Beurre de Baratte. “My children are addicted to this exceptionally salty rich butter from France, also known as ‘golden butter.’ We eat it like cheese. Yes, it’s an extravagance, but I also love how much my kids appreciate good food.” Beurre de Baratte Salted Butter, $11.99, Caputos.
Jasper Hill Farm Cheese Tasting Box. “My son has a penchant for really incredible cheese, and the Jasper Hill boxes are pretty genius. They include crackers, nuts, compotes, essentially a cheese board brought to your door.” Jasper Hill Farm Cheese Tasting Box, $60-$200, Food52.
San Pellegrino Sparkling Water. “Bubble water is a necessity in our house. I was very anti-soda when the kids were young, which resulted in a constant inventory of sparkling water. San Pellegrino’s Essenza line is perfect for outdoor entertaining in a variety of flavors.” San Pellegrino Essenza 24-Can Variety Pack, $27, Amazon.
Prolon Five-Day Kit. “Being in the food industry means a lot of events and evenings out. Every couple of months, I need a good reset. A five-day Prolon cleanse helps me to feel lighter, brighter, and more energized. It helps immensely with my sleep, too.” Five-Day Cleanse, $190, Prolon.
Equinox. “I love the variety of classes offered at Equinox, it allows for a lot of variation in my workout from spinning to yoga to strength training. The side benefit to classes is allowing myself to ‘clock out’ for an hour. If I’m on a treadmill or weight lifting on my own, I invariably stare at my phone, answer messages, and lose that needed mental break.” Equinox.com.
British Food Podcasts. “In Los Angeles, we spend so much in the car. I’m addicted to a variety of British food podcasts, like The Dish, Ruthie’s Table 4, Table Manners, and Comfort Eating with Grace Dent. I find them incredibly soothing, and they help to ease my stress levels when I’m sitting in traffic.”
For more MOTHER ESSENTIALS, peep our recent features on artist ERIN JANG, Chicago party mom KRISTEN KAZA, Hedley & Bennett founder ELLEN MARIE BENNETT, Mochi Kids founder AMANDA STEWART, chef CRISTINA KISNER, chef CAMILLA MARCUS, artist CAROLINE Z HURLEY, Just Date founder SYLVIE CHARLES, food icon AMANDA HESSER, Prickly Pear founder MONA BAHRAINI, Solace Summer founder MEGAN BRE CAMP, Wonder Valley co-founder ALISON CARROLL, OZMA designer HEIDI BAKER, author TIFFANY ROSE SMITH, HEIDI BAKER of OZMA, and PHOEBE SUNG of Cold Picnic.
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