The Insider: Max Silvestri


If you’re in NYC and haven’t been to Big Terrific, the weekly stand-up show that Max Silvestri has hosted with Gabe Liedman and Jenny Slate for five goddamn years, well, what are you doing?! (PSA: Get your half-decade anniversary tix here.) If you don’t live in NYC, sorry to rub it in like jerks: You can get a taste of Max’s hilariousness below and deep-dive into his funny-as-hell archives over at Grantland and Eater. —carlye wisel  

Q: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever worn?
A: When I first moved to New York, I scored a ticket to a fancy charity party—the first like that I’d ever been to. It was in the spring, and outdoors, and a friend convinced me that the occasion called for “summer suits.” He had some linen H&M thing, and I went to Men’s Wearhouse and bought the cheapest khaki suit they had, off the rack. We rolled in together feeling like a million bucks only to see that nearly every single person there was wearing black tie. It was like that scene in Dumb & Dumber. All we needed were canes and top hats. I ended up drinking a lot of stolen vermouth, and as I was leaving, I got into a nonsense fight—one that I started—with a very dapper European man on his way out. I was probably yelling something about his accent, and as he stepped into his limousine, he angrily snapped, “If you are going to get a suit, get it tailored to fit your shoulders.” That is an outrageous thing to say during a fight—but also he was 100% right, and I knew it. I looked like when Tom Hanks becomes a kid again at the end of Big. I now try to follow that guy’s advice, and I ended up reusing the suit in this video.

Q: What website can you absolutely not live without?
A: I refresh a billion times a day. It is crucial that I am one of the first people to know about cool stuff like “Brett Ratner Boards ‘FarmVille’ Animated Series.” Because if Brett Ratner is boarding that train, I want to be boarding that train. Conductor, any extra seats on the train? That is a train you do not want to miss.

Q: Do you own any Of a Kind editions?
A: I own the Ernest Alexander Finch Briefcase. It’s very nice, but I’ve since learned that the guy behind it, Ernest Alexander Sabine, went to high school at Belmont Hill. I went to St. Mark’s, and we played Bel Hill in sports, and all the kids who went there were tools. So for that reason I regret my purchase. Go Lions.

Q: What’s your one reliable life tip or life hack you’d like to share?
A: My favorite phone app is WxQuickie. All it does is tell you if the weather today feels warmer, cooler, or the same as yesterday. Best way to figure out if it’s okay to wear a bathing suit to work.

Q: Who’s your #1 favorite person on Twitter?
A: @JohnCusackNews. It is a bot that automatically rewrites news stories to be about John Cusack. Every single time it makes me laugh. For example: “John Cusack says he’s resigning for the ‘good of church.’”

Q: What’s the first good joke you ever came up with?
A: When I was seven and sitting at the dinner table with my parents, I decided to try swearing? I was a weird kid. They were talking about a coworker of my dad’s, and I interrupted and yelled, “Who the hell is that goddamn guy?” I think I got sent to my room, but in hindsight. yelling, “Who the hell is that goddamn guy?” out of nowhere is a very good joke.

Q: If you could switch wardrobes Freaky Friday-style with anyone, who would you pick?
A: Did they switch wardrobes in Freaky Friday? I thought they just switched bodies. Do we have to get struck by lightning or fall in a magic fountain or something, or can we just exchange clothes? Or do our clothes have to get struck by lightning? If our clothes get struck by lightning, they’d probably be ruined. Anyway, I’d probably switch wardrobes with Chloë Sevigny, because everything she wears looks expensive or one-of-a-kind, and I could probably sell it all for cash. I hope you like J.Crew button-downs and underwear I buy at Marshalls, Chloë!

Photo © Eric Michael Pearson.

Meet more people who make us unreasonably happy over here.

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The Insider: Lockhart Steele

Talk to Lockhart Steele for ten minutes, and you’ll probably get infected with his passion for NYC—not shocking considering he founded Curbed, Racked, and Eater—three sites dedicated to covering the real estate, fashion, and food scenes across dozens of infinitely lovable locales including his own. Here, the South Street Seaport resident/fan-club president schools us on his old ‘hood (the LES!) and the floral shirts that he’s been known to rock. —jiayi

Q: What made you start Curbed?
A: I was living on the Lower East Side and had a blog where I wrote about the way the neighborhood was changing. I realized that I really dug chronicling the way New York’s neighborhoods evolved.

Q: So, how much would you say the Lower East Side has changed since you lived there?
A: I lived on Rivingston Street for exactly ten years—from March 1, 2001 to March 1, 2011. It changed a lot. Pre-9/11, the streets down there were pretty deserted. Many of the restaurants, like Schiller’s, didn’t come along until 2003 or 2004, which is when the neighborhood began having these cool spots. Then, you have the era of the mid-2000s, which led us to rename the neighborhood Hell Square, because that’s really what it became at night. By the time I left, I’d step outside on a Friday or Saturday night, and it was like I was body-surfing.

Q: Did you grow up having an interest in architecture and neighborhoods?
A: Totally—but just casually. I think architecture and real estate are interesting because they’re both topics that get written about a lot by insiders, who write in a certain lingo that’s completely incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t learned them. Part of what we wanted to do at Curbed was to demystify that a little bit—and have a little more fun and straightforward honesty around these things.

Q: Racked was founded on the same philosophy. How do you see the relationship between Curbed, Racked, and Eater?
A: The way I think of it, they’re each telling a different side to the neighborhood story. Curbed is coming out of the point of view of real estate, but also the neighborhoods themselves—the characters and the stories that make a neighborhood what it is. One of the thoughts we had in mind when we started Eater was a that single restaurant opening could almost re-define an entire neighborhood. When Keith McNally came to Rivington Street and opened Schiller’s, that was a real big moment for that neighborhood. And then with Racked, it was the same idea. The three of them form a sort of a triangle in my mind—they each show an important part to the local and neighborhood story.

Q: There was a NYT article that mentioned your fondness for floral shirts—how would you describe your style?
A: Downtown preppy. I have a certain fondness for Paul Smith shirts. But I’m usually pretty casual.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about New York?
A: My favorite thing is just the way the city is constantly reinventing itself. Oh my god, I wake up from one construction site to another construction site—from the South Street Seaport, where I live now, to Cooper Square in the East Village, where I work— which I think is perfect considering that I started Curbed.

Read up on more awesome people here!

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Eater x Of a Kind: Amanda Kludt Tries Out the Of a Kind Cookbook

Bet you didn’t see that headline coming, huh? Well, today’s a big day: Not only did we release an amazing necklace by Dirty Librarian Chains but we also unveiled our long-time-coming digital cookbook, just in time for the last (lazy) weekend of summer. We’re way psyched on it: The recipes are sourced from our rad community of designers (and our interns, who you are obvi dying to meet)—Eater New York editor Amanda Kludt recipe tested the spicy shrimp concoction Matt Singer submitted. To get the full thing, sign up for our newsletter. You’d be a fool to turn down avocado popsicles.

GAMBAS AL PIL PIL by Matt Singer

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons dry sherry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and paprika and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant. Increase the heat to high, add the shrimp, lemon juice, and sherry, stir well, and sauté until the shrimp turn pink and are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and serve.

Amanda’s Take:

I’ll start by saying I don’t cook all that often. So the fact that Of a Kind assigned me Gambas al Pil PIl, a recipe with eight ingredients and just a handful of steps, was a nice little piece of luck for me. One of the steps involved deveining a pound of shrimp— one of the most thankless kitchen tasks, I must say—but overall I got off pretty easy. I guess I should have know that designers like my recipe author Matt Singer have better things to do with their time than slave over the stove or screw around with laundry lists of ingredients. They also probably appreciate how impressive simple meals can be. So, respect.

When I went to my fishmonger to pick out the shrimp for this recipe, I considered getting pre-cleaned shrimp, turning this task from something relatively easy into something dead simple, a 5 minute meal. But the guy behind the counter was a man of repute and he, using the “flavor” argument, strongly suggested I do it myself, pointing me toward some nice, large, saltwater shrimp.

So, the deveining. There’s no real easy way around it. Shrimp are filled with poop, and you have to remove it. It’s gross and tedious, and it’s a good time to put on the TV or a podcast or something mildly distracting to save you from the boredom of it all. After that, it’s smooth sailing. Add oil to the pan, throw in some garlic, red pepper flakes, and paprika, then after a minute, add some lemon, some sherry, and the shrimp. Cook them until they’re pink, throw on some parsley, and done!

I ended up making it with rice, beans, and some broccoli rabe, and I have to say it was pretty fantastic—spicy, flavorful, rich, garlicky, but clean and not fatty. If I had one suggestion, it would be to serve it with a big dollop of Greek yogurt to add to the creaminess and cut the heat. My boyfriend’s Greek/Venezuelan mother makes a very similar spicy shrimp dish that she throws on top of yogurt and rice and it is just incredibly addictive. Otherwise, wonderful, easy, weeknight dish. Try it at home by signing up for the Of a Kind newsletter. Not to sound like Rachael Ray, but you can have an impressive (and healthy) meal on your table in half an hour tops. amanda

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