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The Trade

Guest Editor | Kristin Guy


PhotoCredit: Lani Trock

We are excited to introduce Kristin Guy as our latest Guest Editor!  A Los Angeles based food & lifestyle writer, Kristen has over a decade of working in both the design and entertainment industries.  With her eye for trends + exquisite design of all forms, Kristen runs the graphic-oriented, culinary journal, DineXDesign.

What came first your love of food or passion for design and branding? How do you see those two worlds intersect?

For most of my life, design and food were on separate but parallel paths. I worked as a Creative Director by day at one of Hollywood’s largest Entertainment studios and by night I taught myself how to cook while running a quirky food blog called The Cuisinerd - after 10 years in the corporate game, I had the opportunity to pursue food writing full time and work for myself. But it wasn’t until I launched DineXDesign earlier this year when I decided that my love for food and design really did belong together in an organic and exciting way.  Being able to brand myself with this concept, while being able to make a living by it, has been one of the most rewarding personal achievements in my career.

For me, food and design intersect in multiple ways. At home, it’s everything from the hand made wooden spoons or ceramic dishes in your kitchen, to the thoughtful ways you can entertain loved ones with a beautifully set table. While traveling, it can be the experience of being served a gorgeously plated dish, or the particular colors you’re drawn to inside of a rustic taco shack. At the end of the day, it’s the way the personal design choices of that space interact with the meal, which create a unique and memorable experience.

When you go to a restaurant what are some of your favorite design cues? What takes the experience to the next level?

Maybe it’s because I’m guilty of taking photos of my food, but I love a space that is light and bright. I’m also guilty of wanting a peek behind the scenes and getting to know a restaurant, so bar seating or an open kitchen are always exciting to me. I love striking up a conversation with the people who work there.

For me, décor is about the personality of the space. I’ve had exceptional experiences in laneway cafes sitting on a bucket that no Michelin Star could ever top. I’ve also had exceptional experiences in minimalist design-controlled blank canvas-type settings that were equally as thrilling. If the space is unique, the people are friendly and the overall experience makes you want to linger longer than your meal – I say bravo!

It’s officially summer! What are some of your favorite seasonal ingredients and preparations?

I’m having a fling with radishes right now. When I need a snack in the late afternoon I thinly slice a few on the mandolin and add a little cracked pepper and white wine vinegar. Healthy, crisp and light. Also – tomatoes can’t be beat this time of year. A little fresh burrata and basil with a dash of jalapeno oil or peach balsamic makes for a very happy plate!

What do you see becoming the next design trend in the food and hospitality sphere?

Ooooh, that’s a tough one, so many different styles happening around the world right now. I think small intimate spaces packed with a very focused design concept are on the rise. Restaurant go-ers want the visit to feel like a neighborhood joint without the sacrifice of quality or dynamic ambiance. Downtown LA is a perfect example of these types of establishments, where young chefs are taking risks and opportunity on more manageable rents…Badmaash Indian gastro pub is a fine example of a focused design and food concept that feels special. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more “niche visual story telling” happening over the next year.

Who are some of your favorite restaurant design firms? What spaces continually make you go “wow”?

SeeSaw Studios based in Melbourne AU is unbeatable when it comes to unique restaurant branding. They tackle everything from the logo, to the way the menus and interior of the space compliment each other. They pull together the complete package for clients and with each new opening (be it alley café, large ocean front hospitality project, or small coffee hut) it is always exceptionally thought out and a graphic delight to the eyes (no to mention stomach).

In terms of “Wow” spaces – there are two kinds: over the top whimsy and those who just take the extra care with small details. I recently visited Ironside in San Diego – this place is hands down a theatrical WOW. Basically you feel like you’re inside of an art deco cruise liner. Opulent details mixed with quirk (there are literally octopus tentacles coming out of port holes near the rest rooms) make for a fun experience that doesn’t feel pretentious. In fact, all of the hospitality projects that San Diego design firm CH Projects touch are eye candy gold mines.

On a side note, I can’t wait for The Commissary (designed by Knibb) on the rooftop of the Line Hotel to open. I got a peep of it last week and it speaks to my inner “crazy plant lady” – a full-on glass green house stocked with stag horn ferns and tropical plants. A dream for happy hour conversations! Cannot WAIT!

It’s Happy Hour. What’s your drink of choice?

It depends on where I’m at. Is there is a patio in sight and the sun is still shining? Then a dry rosé from Provence is a must. If the cocktail program is on point, I love a White Negroni made with Suze.

Do you have a favorite local artisanal treat?

Can I say street fruit? I can’t resist a road-side umbrella and a plastic bag filled with fresh fruit and a dusting of lime spice.

But specifically with local brands, I’m currently loving the Kimchi Karma by Brassica and Brine which is delicious on a dog or straight out of the jar. Admittedly, I’m eating it with just a fork right now.

If you could choose one of July’s featured ingredients to cook with, what would you choose and what would you make?

I’m definitely eager to grab up M. Greenwood Peach & Bourbon Jam. I’ve been into making savory happy hour crostinis for friends and my husband lately. This spread would be a sweet, tangy and awesome flavor note with a little slice of Point Reyes Blue…maybe I’d even get a little crazy and serve it on a toasted piece of raisin walnut bread. Who’s coming over!?

What’s up next for you? Any exciting culinary travels?

I’ve been so blessed to have quite a bit of food-based travel lately – this spring I was sent to Melbourne by the Australian tourism board to explore every laneway and artist studio I could cram into one week. I also recently visited New Orleans for the first time and absolutely fell in love with that city’s architecture and food scene. So much history and character!

Up next? I’m relocating to the Bay Area for a month, followed by a trip back to my home state of Michigan. Looking forward to exploring both the food and artist communities in two completely different yet charming parts of the country.


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