Blogger Athena Calderone: “I Discovered my Creative Voice in my 30s”

·Senior Writer
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Athena Calderone, the creative mind behind Eye Swoon. (Photo: Instagram)

Sometimes finding your passion comes later than you expect. That was the case for Athena Calderone, the glamorous creative force behind the lifestyle site Eye Swoon.  The food-blogger spent her twenties and thirties exploring a variety of creative outlets, including modeling, styling, hostessing, cooking and interior design. However, Calderone says it wasn’t until the past few years that everything really clicked.  “I really discovered my creative voice in my late 30s,” says Calderone, now 40. “ A lot of bloggers are really finding their platform in their 20s, but I got married really young and had a child. I had so much joy through family life, but I was in a different space.”

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On Eye Swoon, Athena Calderone  (Photo: Courtesy of Athena Calderone)

An interior designer by trade, Calderone joined Tumblr about six years ago to create a visual outlet for all of her interests—travel, culture, design, entertaining, and food. She posted rooms she was designing, food she was making, places she was visiting, parties she was throwing and it started to take off. She launched Eye Swoon in 2011 to expand on the images. With the site Calderone could provide furniture sources, recipes details, and expand into collaborating with top chefs.  The site features the impossibly chic Calderone’s stylish interiors, cool party ideas, beautifully shot recipes, and interviews with a who’s who in the food world, from Marcus Samuelsson to Jean Georges.  It’s all done with the idea of inspiring creativity in her readers. “It’s a launching pad to give people the ideas and visual inspiration to then put their own stamp on everything,” she says.

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Athena Calderone cooks with Jean Georges helps Athena to inspire her readers. (Photo: Courtesy of Athena Calderone)

Although she covers a range of topics on the site, the cohesive link is Calderone’s unique sense of style and glamorous perspective. “I love to add layers, and texture. I love juxtaposition,” she explains. “Whether that’s food or clothes, there’s this commonality of things that I’m most passionate about.” Whether she is cooking pizza with Jean Georges or creating an outdoor dinner in her backyard, Calderone tries to put out ideas that aren’t impossible to recreate. “While it might appear elevated or elegant, I want to show how it all can still be accessible and simple,” she explains.  Dishes like avocado toasts, homemade granola, and tomato pasta,  are easy to make. Of course, everything is beautifully shot by Calderone who manages to make even practical advice look gorgeous. For example, Calderone reveals her secret to grilling fish without burning it, is to place it on top of sliced lemons,  a move she captures complete with artfully arranged herbs. 

Reflecting on the site, Calderone loves that she has finally found a place to pull together all her passions and talents.  “Through Eye Swoon, I started to embrace all the various bits of myself that at one time felt really fragmented. I felt like a chameleon interested in so many different creative platforms,” she admits. “It has been a place to find confidence within myself and the things that I love.” Calderone adds a thought that should be inspiration for people who don’t have one set path when it comes to career. “You could think you are doing it wrong, and suddenly it all leads you in the path that you are meant to be.”

Here, Calderone shares one of her favorite beauty food recipes with Yahoo Beauty: 

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SWOONY SAVORY BREAKFAST

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 cup black lentils

  • 3 cups (or more) low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon red wine or apple cider vinegar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill, plus small sprigs for serving

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley

  • 3 radishes thinly sliced on a mandolin

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the ¼ cup olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and cook, stirring often, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add lentils and 3 cups broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, adding broth as needed to keep lentils covered, until lentils are soft, 30–40 minutes. Stir in vinegar; season with salt and pepper.
Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce heat so water is at a simmer and add vinegar, which will help the egg coagulate. Crack an egg into a small bowl, create a whirlpool in the water with the tail of a wooden spoon, then gently slide it into water. After about 3 minutes, whites should be set and yolks still runny. Repeat with remaining eggs. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels as they are done.

Divide lentils into individual bowls and top each with a poached egg
some dill, parsley and radish slices. Zest with lemon zest and finish with maldon sea salt, fresh pepper and a drizzle of evoo.