Bo O’Connor’s Roast Chicken

Health, it’s no mystery. Just like every other aspect of our lives these days, the wellness space has become crowded with too much content and information. We, in partnership with Tropicana, decided to bring it back to the basics.

Remember when coffee was just coffee? In other words, don’t you miss the days when there wasn’t a certain pressure to make our favorite food mainstays complicated or precious? We mulled it over with a few tastemakers, who gave us recipes they’ve been making from the start, through all the thick and thin health “trends.” Turns out, the secret to making wholesome, healthy food may just lie in the mainstays we’ve been making from the beginning. Korean chef Bo O’Connor has been dishing up new American comfort fare in her cozy neighborhood eatery The Pomeroy. While The Pomeroy is her first restaurant, she’s definitely no amateur in the kitchen. We caught up with the restaurateur to talk shop, plug her for a delicious weeknight recipe, and get the scoop on why classics are always better than trends.

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What food/dish did you make today? Why is it your classic go-to?

One of my favorite easy to make dishes is just a simple roast chicken. I always buy an organic, free-range chicken that’s between 3 – 4 lbs. Because this dish is so simple, buying a good quality chicken that actually tastes like chicken is so important! You can make this dish for only one person (then you have some great leftovers) or you can make for a larger group by just making more chickens! One whole chicken can easily serve two people.

From start to finish, what is your ideal food day?

I start with a venti iced quad espresso with half and half. Greek yogurt or just a piece of fruit are my snacks. Then I have a large salad. I don’t love meat on my salads; I prefer beans like chickpeas or black beans and lots of veggies. Dinner is my indulgence! An ideal meal at night would be either really good sushi, Italian or Greek.

What are your diet mainstays?

Drink a lot of water! I also always have snacks in the office of my restaurant. Things like cashew butter, coconut butter, egg crackers, paleo or gluten-free crackers, chips etc. I find that when I eat a “modified” paleo diet I feel the best. It’s hard to follow considering part of my job is to taste all different foods. Balance is key, though. There will be days where I’m eating heavy rich foods, at my restaurant or somewhere else, but then I’ll try to take a few days off and eat clean.

What are your beauty mainstays?

To be honest, for a long time I never really worried about my skin. I generally had good skin, few wrinkles, and didn’t have to do much. But since I hit thirty and opened a restaurant, I’ve found that I definitely need more help in this department!

Exfoliating is the number one beauty routine for me. I tend to have dry skin, and find that if I don’t exfoliate at least three times a week, my skin looks tired. Tracie Martyn facials and beauty products are incredible. My skin also needs different products every few weeks, so I like to change it up.

I use Tata Harper, Charlotte Tilbury face products and makeup, La Mer, Korean beauty products (which are everywhere now and cheap!), Tom Ford makeup, Skinceutical products, and Karuna sheet masks. I also really love to get eyelash extensions…I have the thinnest and shortest eyelashes and find that putting mascara on is always such a nightmare! I find that when I get eyelash extensions, I’m less inclined to put on makeup because I already feel done up.

Which foods do you try to eat every day? 

Some form of vegetable and fruits.

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What were your favorite foods as a child? What are they now?

It’s funny, I don’t think I had a favorite food growing up. I was that eater who always wanted different things. I drove my parents crazy! As an adult, I’m such a craving-based eater…there are times I just want a great hearty salad, but other times I want a decadent pasta dish with tons of cheese.

What’s a beauty secret that hasn’t changed since your teenage years? 

Don’t wear too much makeup! I want to look as if I have no makeup on but look bright and fresh with just a pop of color on my lip.

What item of clothing will you never throw away?

My mom’s old t-shirt that she got from Italy at the Sistine Chapel. It literally has holes all over, but it’s one of those things I can’t throw out. I also have this weird obsession with t-shirts.

Do you have a uniform for getting dressed? What is it? 

Lululemon black leggings, a t-shirt if it’s warm out or a long sleeve t-shirt if it’s cold. I’m obsessed with Current Elliot’s grey boyfriend t-shirt. It’s comfortable, long and doesn’t ever shrink. Topped off with either a huge knit sweater or soft sweatshirt.

How important is diet and exercise to you? 

Balance is key. I definitely go on spurts of working out like crazy, but I’ve found that since I’ve opened the restaurant that has definitely been harder to do. I don’t live my life feeling bad about a cookie I ate. Life is too short for that. I find that if there are days where I indulge, I’ll take a few days after to detox a bit and eat clean and light.

Do you follow any diets or health regimens? What are they?

I find that I feel best when I cut out dairy and processed carbs. There are diets I see where people don’t eat certain fruits etc, and I don’t personally agree with this. Eating real wholesome foods is what our bodies need and want.

Is simple food better than extravagantly prepared food? Why?

Don’t get me wrong, having a decadent meal at an incredible restaurant is awesome and always a fun experience. However, it’s impossible to eat like that on a daily basis and sometimes, I do think there’s too much going on. When the ingredient is of the best quality, that’s what makes whatever you’re eating delicious. There doesn’t need to be a million components to make something taste good.

Are there any foods you eliminate? Why or why not?

I’ll try to limit dairy. I don’t think humans are really meant to consume cow’s milk. I have a hard time processing it.

Which ingredients are overrated? Which ingredients make every dish better?

Truffle oil is so overrated. It tastes incredibly fake to me. Good salt and freshly ground pepper always make things better. Do not use pre-ground pepper. It has no taste!

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What’s a food trend that’s starting to grow on you? What’s one that you just don’t get?

Lately there have been a bunch of new trendy dim sum restaurants opening up in New York. I’m all about sharing food and trying a bunch of different things when dining out. I’m also really into the whole QSR concept. Many renowned chefs have started different QSR concepts bringing their “haute” cuisine expertise to your everyday person.

Fancy Milkshakes…I don’t really get it. Don’t get me wrong, I really like a good milkshake, but I don’t need there to be twelve items on top of my milkshake.

If you could only eat one cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?

New American, because it can involve so many different cuisines and influences.

If you could host a dinner party, with any five guests, living or dead, who would be there and what would you cook?

If I could host a dinner a party, I would invite Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain, Danny Meyer, Oprah Winfrey and Melissa McCarthy. I know I’m cheating with this answer, but I would cook what was in season. I wouldn’t make it too complicated…food does not have to be complicated to taste good!

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*Sponsored by Tropicana

*Photography by Danielle Kosann.