Community Spotlight: Coffee & Champagne
Do you ever take a bite of food that’s just so good that you wish you could document it forever? Michelle Williams, founder of Coffee and Champagne, does just this – and she’s turned it into an awesome career. Michelle photographs and writes about the culinary wonders she’s sampled, delving into the Big Apple in an unparalleled way. We chatted with her about her Instagram, her upcoming event at our Bowery Loft, and life as a blogger.
SPLACER: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
MICHELLE WILLIAMS: I grew up in New York, living on the Upper East Side and attending school on the Upper West Side. At Wheaton College, I studied English, Fine Arts, and Art History. I came back to the city for graduate school at NYU at their School of Continuing Professional Studies, studying Motion Graphics. I graduated with honors and learned a lot about computers, animation, and visual applications programs. After leaving academia, I started a 9-5 career at a stop-motion animation startup in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Since it was a very small company, I did a lot of hands-on illustration. I desired change after a while and reached out to a former professor at NYU; I got a new position and worked on graphics for the Today Show and lots of MSNBC shows. I later left NBC for a motion graphics opportunity at Oglivy & Mather, where I worked long hours and worked extremely hard. I did some freelancing, did work for several ad agencies, and eventually ended up at ABC.
SPLACER: So how did you get into blogging?
MW: When I interviewed for my ABC job, I was told that I was extremely overqualified and that I was going to have to take on a hobby. When I began planning my wedding, this hobby became a wedding blog. All of the information I learned from planning my own wedding was put out there as a firsthand perspective. I eventually got bored, so I turned it into a lifestyle blog featuring music, food, and stuff to do on the weekends. Yet, I came to the realization that if one expands too much, she will not become an expert in anything. With this, I decided to focus my blog on solely one thing. Everything in my career has come together very well; it’s a fun way to think that I’m doing the right thing. Blogging is a ton of work, but it’s really fun.
SPLACER: What inspired you to make a blog dedicated to food?
MW: I wanted to pay homage to and explore my city in a very different way that I didn’t think I would be able to otherwise. I desired to take my findings and become knowledgeable in the subject. I do not call myself an expert, but I’ve always loved to learn new things about food, recipes, and the like. My blog started to get a lot of followers, so I started an Instagram about a year and a half ago, adding a new perspective to other pieces written on the blog.
SPLACER: How did you come up with the name “Coffee & Champagne”?
MW: When I was on my honeymoon, a waiter came up to me and asked, “Would you like coffee or champagne?” It was a great moment and a great brunch. Ultimately, the name is meant to evoke the lifestyle of a great day in New York. Coffee in the morning, champagne in the evening – wake up and do it all over again.
SPLACER: Can you decide on a favorite food or restaurant?
MW: I tend to find new restaurants and change my opinion often. It’s never going to be a consistent favorite – more like a “favorite of the week.” For a coffee shop, it’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters; for a cocktail lounge, Skylark’s. I also love Gato and Black Barn. Luke’s Lobster is another low-key option. As for a favorite food, I love lobster. I love eggs, too; they’re so versatile and can enhance so many dishes.
SPLACER: What’s the best meal of the day?
MW: I love brunch and cocktail hour. Small bites are really good, because I get to try a lot of everything rather than having full portions.
SPLACER: Tell me about your event – what’s the idea behind it?
MW: I wanted to bring together friends (who are food people as well) and cook for them. I have a few ideas about what I’m cooking, and I want dishes to be extra-accessible for people. It’s going to be a very photogenic and attractive food style, and I have lots of playful and fun ideas.
SPLACER: What type of space were you looking for?
MW: I was looking for something open and unique – something that felt very “New York” and that definitely had a long, communal table.
SPLACER: What’s your favorite meal you’ve made.
SPLACER: What was your favorite meal at a restaurant.
Words by Katie Roscoe