More Than a Launch Party

Natasha Pickowicz kicks off her debut book tour at Reform with much more than cake

Natasha Pickowicz is no stranger to the adage “it takes a village.” The former pastry chef of lauded New York hotspots including Flora Bar and Altro Paradiso has built a name for herself as a grassroots organizer and bake sale activist, drawing crowds across the country and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support reproductive health causes for groups like Planned Parenthood and The Brigid Alliance. So when the time came to kick off the tour for her first ever cookbook, it should come as no surprise that the very same community she’s collaborated with was more than eager to step in and support.

To celebrate the debut of More Than Cake: 100 Recipes Built for Pleasure and Community, Natasha and her pals threw a get together that was not unlike her signature bakes: expertly considered yet somewhat unexpected, and always thoroughly inviting. Guests hugged and toasted their unplanned reunions throughout the kitchens at Reform’s DUMBO showroom, catching up over cocktails and an abundant spread. A long counter by the entrance welcomed guests with lusciously frosted sheet cakes from Yellow Rose in pastel pink boxes, but just as the title promised, there was indeed so much more than cake. On the very same table, beaded cake stands by Susan Alexandra supported copies of the book, alongside minimal wooden stands from Waka Waka bearing stacks of golden shoyu peanut butter cookies and moreish buckwheat chocolate chip cookies.

As promised, the party offered much more than cake

From there it was a sort of choose your own adventure: To the left, a bar lined with colorful Mamo glassware offered citrus-forward cocktails with YOLA Mezcal and Aplós, while a nook a bit further back beckoned guests with a DIY spread of pull-apart rolls with ham from The Meat Hook, cubes of cheese, homemade kumquat marmalade, and a mound of soft Kerrygold butter sprinkled with edible flowers. To the right of the entrance, a round table had been decked out with a bowl of cara cara orange wedges and platters of colorful spring crudites - curling fingers of tardivo radicchio and verdant sugar snap peas were served with a creamy and herby spread that was giving spinach artichoke dip in all the right ways. Another table featured earthy vegetarian sandwiches with earthy mushrooms, bitter greens, and bright shiso on She Wolf Bakery bread, while a podium nearby held dimply flatbreads, chewy dates, and a wheel of cheese to mix and match as guests pleased. A green travertine sink toward the back of the room was filled with ice and bottles for guests to help themselves to sparkling water and wines, while Chris Crawford made the rounds with cups of a refreshingly Tart shaved ice, flavored with honey and fig leaf vinegar, produced with leaves from Natasha’s own backyard.

In keeping with the analog feel of the evening, Zoe Mowat had installed a sound system for live vinyl sets she curated along with Matt Shaw and Jarek Miller, and guests were encouraged to take photos with disposable film cameras spread throughout the space. And true to the form of traditional debut parties - whether bat mitzvah, sweet sixteen, or otherwise - a signing board in the central studio with a blown up image of the cover offered guests a space to record their well wishes. Everyone went home with a More Than Cake tote, complete with a surprise selection of the host’s favorite goodies - mine included a bag of Smallhold dried trumpet mushrooms and Rose Delights Stoned Fruit CBD gummies, plus a couple peanut cookies I grabbed for the stroll home.