Google “angry food blog” and you’ll come up with Lady and Pups, founded by Mandy Lee in 2012. You’ll also find a profile of her on Vice, an online outlet better known for its edgy news reporting than its cookbook author profiling—and therein lies the appeal of the self-described “Taiwan-born, Vancouver-raised, and slow-aged in New York” blogger. Her adventurous cooking (scallion popover s’mores, anyone?) captures the attention of food enthusiasts, while her unfiltered musings—yes, much of it angry—on living abroad as a trailing spouse endears her to rule-breakers and iconoclasts.
Mandy’s first cookbook, The Art of Escapism Cooking: A Survival Story, with Intensely Good Flavors, was published this past fall. Included: a selection of her recipes as well as ruminations on her six years spent as an expat in China, where she fought off looming depression by obsessively cooking. Mandy and her husband and their dogs decamped for Hong Kong in 2016, but she’s still fueling her dishes with equal parts love and bile in her new home.
A couple of weeks ago, we came across her newly remodeled kitchen on Instagram; we’re taking the next available flight to spend an afternoon with Mandy; we’ll vent and cook. Until then, we’re chronicling the details of her Victorian-inspired kitchen, which she shared with us with her characteristic candor.
Have a look.
Photography by Mandy Lee.
Above: “I picked this palette and aesthetic because I’m just not an all-white-kitchen kinda personality,” Mandy says. “It doesn’t change how I cook, but it changes how I feel in the kitchen, giving me a sense of nostalgia and imagery that feels right. I’m a sucker for all things vintage, aged, things that seem to remember stories even though they cannot speak. And that’s how I want my kitchen to feel like, as if it has stories.”
Above: “I fortunately found a paint company that was willing to spend hours and hours on custom mixing just the right shade for me. I like the color, that Victorian green, moody and uncommon, and how it plays well with the bits of gold and copper. It is named as ‘Mandy 2.3’ in this paint company Eico in HK if anyone’s interested.”
Above: “We found the brass sink in Marrakech, and I was determined to force feed it into the design one way or another. Turned out it was perfect for the filtered water tap. And if I could change the tap itself to brass I would, but it came with the water filter and was inflexible about being replaced,” says Mandy.
Above: Mandy displays most of her cookware on hooks. Behind the sink skirt are “all the ugly but necessary things a modern city dweller requires but doesn’t want anyone else to see, like washing machine/dryer, water filter, large bins of dog food, and a trolley full of condiments.”
Above: “The gas cooktop is by Bertazzoni, the oven by ILVE. That’s as far as brand names goes, because the rest of the fixtures are all purchased from manufacturers in China: the faucets, lighting, handles, clocks, etc.”
Above: “It was extremely difficult and expensive to get marble countertops, my first choice, in Hong Kong. My second choice, an aged wood surface, was equally impossible. So I basically custom-stained and treated the surface of plywoods myself to give it an aged look and called it a day.”
Above: “I worked with a contractor to custom-build basically all the cabinets and tables in the kitchen for me, and I sourced all the materials myself. It was, all in all, not a process I’d like to revisit, especially in Hong Kong,” says Mandy, a trained architect. “The rails are actual brass rods I purchased from manufacturers, cut to the dimensions I requested. Even the hooks are brass sticks I cut and bent myself. I’m cheap like that.”
Above: The dogs’ water bowl sits on the tiled palazzo floor. “The kitchen is painted, but the rest of the apartment is plastered, another hellish process we went through ourselves,” says Mandy.
Check back in the coming months for a complete tour of Mandy’s Hong Kong apartment.
For more on small kitchens, see: