ELEVEN SIX WOMEN | SARAH COPELAND
Meet Sarah Copeland: an award-winning food writer, tastemaker, curator of good living, mother and dear friend. Sarah’s recipes, images, and words focus on whole-foods ingredients and an appetite for life – inspiring confidence, vitality and joy through her brand platform Edible Living. We wanted to highlight Sarah for our Mother’s Day feature as a working-mama-entrepreneur we admire and to gain insight into how Sarah has shaped her career around her family-life, multi-tasking on many levels. Sarah’s voice is truly an authentic one, she speaks from the heart and connects and evokes strength and understanding to a wide audience of Mother’s. We captured Sarah in her beautiful, new studio-space on the grounds of her home property in Upstate, NY wearing some of her favorite Spring 21 Knitwear pieces.
Can you share your journey in food and journalism leading to the curation of the Edible Living platform?
Would love to! I came to New York City straight after studying writing and photography at journalism school, and pursued the editor life, which was a very fun life. But along the way I fell in love with the art, mastery and theater of food, via New York’s vibrant restaurant scene. I went to culinary school, with the idea of just becoming super knowledgeable about food as a passion, not a career, but doors kept opening. Each one led me along a delicious and winding path that has included food styling for major brands and books, summers as a personal chef in St. Tropez, meaningful non-profit work with organizations like FEED and Share our Strength, helping to build the Food Network recipe database and magazine in the early days and leading the food team at Real Simple Magazine.
My brand, Edible Living, is a way of combining all my past experiences and skills with my belief that a vibrant life and relationships start at the table, in the garden or in the places our emotional life intersects with our physical life. Food is such a personal and inviting place to make that connection. My work now includes four cookbooks, a Food Network show and contributions to major brands I love, like New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur magazine, Anthropologie, Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchen, among many others.
We love your brand name: Edible Living and caption “live full”. Can you speak in more depth to your philosophy and who you strive to connect with?
Living full to me means leaning into all the areas of our lives, with heart. Although I love creating beautiful images and recipes and books, I don’t think recipes or even the vast topic of food alone would ever satisfy me creatively. It’s the bigger lifestyle that—where food and life meet—where we connect socially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually with others around shared experiences (be they a proper meal, or a ritualistic tea time or a cocktail hour) that truly captures me.
Food is at the essence of how we connect as humans, and how we experience joy and fullness. Mealtime rituals and recipes are also a window into other cultures, how people who may look different than us experience all of the same emotions and hopes and dreams for their lives. We can see this magnified when we look at one little piece of human life, and for me the portal is the home, the garden, the plate.
I hope that my work inspires others to slow down and see humanity around them—whether it’s their kids across the table from them, a friend or neighbor in need, or how we fit into our larger, complex world. For many, mealtime is the only time modern humans slow and still (myself included), so to me it’s an essential meditation in living well.
Since we last connected on an ELEVEN SIX WOMEN Story, three and half years ago, you have launched two more books and one that has become a Food network series. Can you speak to each of these?
My favorite of all my work, Every Day is Saturday, which launched in 2019, came out of the most authentic core of my life—cooking and entertaining for my friends and family here at home, and working hard to pull elements of those dreamier weekend vibes into the every day. We very much live this here in our home. It’s been a complete joy to turn the recipes and mantras of this book into a larger video series (by the same name) for Food Network. My most recent book is a more practical but equally delicious take on family life called Instant Family Meals, a guidebook of recipes for making luxurious feeling, big-flavor meals quickly in an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker. That one is more topical that any book in the past, but it has been a nice offering for our times; more has been asked of working parents this past year than almost anytime before, and it feels good to offer real solutions for making mealtimes easier.
We love how you feature and encompass your beautiful children within your work and books. Not only must it be thrilling that their Mama creates beautiful delicious food for them to sample but what do you believe this experience is teaching them about your entrepreneurial journey?
Involving my kids in my work feels like the most natural thing in the world to me—I always imagined spending most of my days with my children when I had them, and I can’t imagine siloing my professional and private life (though, I certainly appreciate women who do that well, when that’s a more authentic fit for them!).
My kids both seem to love and adore cooking, and even shooting days (when of course, they are the most well fed). As my oldest is now ten, I really see how a self-made life and career is something she has come to value and desire for her own life. We dream about opening a bakery together, and she talks about it with me several times a week, making plans and telling me how she’s setting aside some of her savings to make it happen. Because she’s up close and personal in my professional life, it allows me to talk with her honestly about not just the dreamy, glamorous parts of any job (which most of us see), but the challenging parts, too. I hope I’m preparing her well for the choices she’ll make in the future, even the choice to include, or not, a balance of career and family, which is never easy.
Your talented husband recently built the beautiful studio workspace that we are capturing you in today. Can you share the process of creating the studio and why you chose to have this space on your property?
It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to have my own studio, to start to tweak some of my work day out of the family home so we can enjoy that as a no-work-haven, more and more. At first I thought I wanted to be in a big commercial loft with other creatives—I adore that synergy. But when we bought our house 11 years ago as a weekend escape, it was the barn that first captured me, where I imagined a summer kitchen and studio opposite my garden, to make, create, shoot, style and live my work.
During the earliest days of the pandemic, when it became clear that kids would be home around the clock at length, I started to again reimagine the barn as my creative space—steps outside our back door with the family all nearby. At the same time, my husband, András, finally had the space to pull back from his own work and help me make that a reality—working day, nights and weekends this time last year to clean out, winterize, and fully renovate the inside and outside of our 250-year-old blacksmith barn into a clean, white, dreamy blank slate for me. He added my big picture window and 6 windows along the side so my space is flooding with light until about 7 PM, and these soft maple floors that feel like a dream on bare feet.
It’s still very much a work in progress. I haven’t had my own space since my last solo apartment just before I married, 11 years ago. I’ve learned so much about myself as I settle in and choose new pieces to bring into the space slowly, and carefully—I want to surround myself only with things that deeply inspire. Along with my handsome black walnut desk, built by my husband as an anniversary gift for me many years ago (and the table that launched his business, Hudson Workshop)—I want all the other work in the space to honor and celebrate the incredible female creatives in my life—from the art to the objects, the books and furniture.
This pandemic year has been a challenge for all but especially Mama’s. Can you speak to what’s been most challenging as a Mother and on the flip side the silver linings?
I recently learned about the physiological phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect, coined by Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik who discovered that interruptions and uncompleted tasks can trigger stress. It was an enormous aha for me—so that’s what I’ve been feeling! The biggest challenge has been the need to change gears constantly between parenting and professional life, stopping in the middle of everything to make snacks, entertain, keep kids on task (remote schooling) and so much more.
On the flip side, I have literally witnessed my kids blossoming into big kids before my very eyes, gaining independence and confidence, learning new schools, working things out in their heads, experiencing joy—all at such breathtaking proximity. If I can pause long enough to remember this closeness—one that we hadn’t had on this scale since they were babies/toddlers—is ultimately so fleeting, it becomes so precious. Some of our happiest, most peaceful and slow moments in family life have happened this last year and I’m so grateful for them.
Do you have any words of advice to other Mama entrepreneurs that has helped you navigate through the Mama and work juggle?
There is never enough time to do everything on our list, so instead of torturing ourselves, I’m learning to make the list smaller and more attainable—to set both my kids and I up for success each day, instead of leading to more frustration on either end (them wanting more one-on-one time from me, me wanting more quiet head space to finish a project!).
I’m also really diving into the Katie Byron school (she calls it The Work) which helps to identify that thoughts are things we can detach ourselves from. So if were are in the moment with our child—a beautiful moment of their joy or discovery, like when they pick you dandelions in the yard and bring it to you with so much wonder and love—and then a thought creeps in that takes you out of the moment (it could be anything from this is going to stain my only pair of white pants! to I have to answer that email and oh my gosh the deadline and….!), we can consciously choose to release that thought, to acknowledge that the importance of that thought isn’t necessarily fact, but just a story we’ve attached meaning to. As we let go of the distracting thought (which takes work), we return to the moment more fully. It’s so simple but it’s also revolutionary. It’s helping me be more present.
Do you have any exciting plans in the pipeline that you can share or hint at?
I’m toying with three new book topics, and just deciding which one I’d rather dive into first. They’re all quite different from my previous books, and either excites me greatly. For the first time in my life, I’m not forcing myself onto the next thing quickly. Instead, I’m working slowly on the two with the most energy for me, until the moment when I know which one needs to come first, and enjoying this rare time of re-entry at a slower pace than I’ve ever experienced before. It feels like a gift.
Where are you and your family first traveling to first as the pandemic restrictions ease up?I was just talking to my husband about how desperately I crave a change of scenery—Mexico and beach weather are calling me!
For the moment, we’ve just booked tickets to Hungary for this summer, where András is from; we generally go back to see his family in July and August each year, but we skipped last summer in the height of the pandemic. I’m craving so much to be back there, in the textures, colors and pace of the old world. Even running my hands over the 300—year-old stone walls of his family home is very grounding for me. We often take one side trip during our summer visits to Hungary. Two years ago it was Rome, this year I’m thinking Croatia, or maybe back to Italy, but to the coast this time.
Can you share your most favorite recipe you enjoy making and eating with your kids?
We are shamelessly indulgent breakfast people, and lately I’ve been making the lightest ricotta pancakes (from my very first cookbook) or these cornmeal pancakes, with whatever fruit is in season over top. We’re also die-hard soft-taco family—so last night Baja style fish tacos, and a couple times a week we make cheesy egg tacos that we eat any time of the day, with salsa verde. For more recipes for the family see my Journal HERE
How would you describe the ELEVEN SIX brand to your friends and which pieces from the Spring 21 collection are your most enjoying?
I’m so fair that I always assume I need a black, navy or pop of color to feel bright and alive, but I am positively loving my new Isla Cardi in wheat. I’ve always been an enormous fan of the fall collections—as the warmth and luxe feel of the alpaca has been my calling card for everyday chic comfort as a working mother, but finding out how silky this cotton ISLA Cardi feels for every day has been a game changer. It’s helping me ease from pandemic life into stepping out a bit more, with confidence.