Just about the only short video content I can consume these days is cooking content. It takes a lot of talent and practice to cook well, and it takes even more to film it and educate others in the process. Plus, I was a Food Network junkie when I was a child. This week’s subject, Pierce Abernathy, is a lot more than just a content creator or a chef, though he does both extremely well (I have to assume the latter since I’ve yet to have the pleasure of eating with him). He also models, develops recipes, and is part of a collective called Aerthship—more on that below.
Pierce took some time from his busy schedule to sit with me and discuss his leap from digital media production to prepping food and cooking for his parents, his favorite dishes and restaurants, Aerthship’s mission, the connection between natural wine and fashion, and plenty of other topics.
Let’s start off with a description of the many hats you wear, and how you made your way to New York City. What is your background, and how did you channel that to the level of fame you currently have?
I came to New York after school to work in digital media production. After a few jobs I ended up working in food media. A part of that role was to cook and develop recipes. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and that passion grew quickly. I knew I wanted to hone my skills and pursue the passion further so I reached out to a few chefs/owners in the city. I ended up interning at Huertas, a Basque spot in the East Village. I’d go in after my full-time job or on the weekends and chop onions, prep, and, if I was lucky, make a salad or two. I was not happy at my job in food media and had the opportunity to work in the kitchen as a cook. I decided to take the risk and leave my salaried job. I ended up cooking there for a few months and loved it. I then found myself back in the digital media world freelancing and later found a job at a small marketing agency in February of 2020. The pandemic hit and I assumed I would be laid off but my role pivoted to being a media strategist where I was connecting influencers with our brand partners.
I moved back to Kentucky during the pandemic and was cooking for my parents every day. Besides my job, I had a lot of free time. Reels had just launched on Instagram and I decided to make a video of myself making baba ganoush. I found it a fun, creative outlet that I didn’t have to feel too sacred about. I started sharing more of these videos and my following began to grow. In May of 2021 I decided to take the risk again and leave my full-time job to pursue the success I found online and explore how I could turn it into a long-term career. I’m still figuring out those bigger goals and my voice in the food space but it has been a really rewarding journey so far.
What does cooking mean to you, and how did you first start?
Cooking is definitely an expression of love and creativity. A big part of why I love to cook is because I love to host. I really love caring for people through food and creating an environment where guests feel welcomed and looked after. My mom always cared a lot about food and ensured my brother and I were always eating well. She cooked us dinner most nights of the week and I look back and see it was an expression of her love toward us.
I first started to cook in college. I went to school in Boston and was exposed to a diverse group of friends and food. Two of my college roommates, and still close friends of mine, loved to eat and cook. They definitely were the initial inspiration for me to step into the kitchen.
Do you have a favorite meal or dish to make? What are your top five favorite places to eat?
I want to eat with a lot of dishes on the table…. a few salads, a few dips, bread and butter, some seafood dishes, and roasted vegetables. A top five is tough! I can share a few in my head right now but I feel like it constantly changes.
Elkano, in Getaria, Spain: They are known for their grilled Turbot. Probably the best piece of fish I’ve ever eaten.
Place des Fêtes in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, New York: A wine bar with a great sustainably minded, seafood-focused menu and a refreshing wine list. It’s such a welcoming environment and the staff is great.
Superiority Burger in the East Village, New York: I am really trying my best to patiently wait for the reopening. Such a casual spot with food that just makes me feel good. No one does it like them.
The Grill in Midtown, New York: This is probably my “last meal” situation. It makes me fall back in love with New York every time I go. You really enter this different reality with martinis as big as your head and tableside omelets. I don’t go often but when I do it feels like a movie.
Lille Bakery in Copenhagen: An incredible bakery and cafe. The space is so welcoming and everything they do is top notch. All local, organic, and seasonal. Top-tier breads and pastry with inventive but simple and comforting dishes.
Can you tell me about Aerthship and what you’re hoping to achieve with it?
Aerthship is a collective started by my close friend and creative partner Tin Mai. We are a multidisciplinary group trying to grow an earth-centric subculture. We want to bridge the gap between ecology and culture through collaborations and experiences that connect people with the earth. Personally, I want to share my idea of imperfect sustainability, explore different food systems, and support the people making positive changes in these systems.
What role does fashion and style play in your life? And how does this intersect with your interests and career?
Fashion and style are always evolving for me but I became more interested in it over the past two years. A lot of the people in my life have great taste and have influenced my style immensely. I’ve also had the privilege to work adjacent to the fashion world in what I do, whether it is modeling or cooking for different brands. I think it goes back to wanting to be a part of the cultural conversation.
Speaking of intersection, there’s a bit of a connection between natural wine and fashion that’s been sticking for quite a while now. Why do you think that is?
That’s interesting. I think both are related to pop-culture and even hype-culture at the moment. For me drinking wine always feels like an elevated experience. It’s a choice to slow down and do something almost romantic. I think that attitude totally relates to how you dress. If you are thoughtful enough to seek out a particular style of wine or a particular producer, you are probably quite conscious about how you dress and the designers or pieces in your closet.
What are some of your favorite brands currently, and why?
A few I love are Karu Research, Evan Kinori, and Story Mfg. All these brands are very focused on the craft and how each piece is made; the sourcing, the material, the process. I really appreciate the transparency and education. When I buy new clothes, I try to be quite particular. I want to invest in pieces that I can wear for the rest of my life.
Are you on the hunt for any pieces in particular, and why?
I have been searching for a special pair of loafers. There are a few I am looking at now but I’d love to find a nice vintage pair. Again, it’s one of those things I want to invest in so I don't want to jump the gun until I find a pair I fall in love with.
If you’re having a romantic interest over to your house for the first time and you’re cooking, what would be the perfect outfit for it?
You really need to ride the line. Not too formal, not too casual. I would say a well fitted pair of pants, most likely not denim… then a good sweater. Simple, clean, and welcoming.
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