Delicacies is a jewelry line that caters to epicureans; their charms are modeled after all your favorite ingredients—everything from garlic to octopus. They dive into the lore behind each ingredient creating an accessory that is as lovely as it is meaningful. My ingredients? The coffee bean and basil leaf. Coffee is my mantra, my life force. If I don’t start the day with a cup of coffee then I’m likely violently ill or dead. I drink it black and in excess. It’s the elixir I sip throughout the day that fosters my drive and ability to create. It’s no surprise then that coffee symbolizes passion and focus.
I chose basil because it’s my favorite herb and I love using it in unexpected ways from fruity cocktails, to sweets and desserts, or mixing whole leaves into salads and other dishes. There is something so invigorating and vibrant about basil—it’s a bold herb that makes its presence known. Both of my ingredients are bold in fragrance and flavor, they are the kind of ingredients you experience with scent first and taste thereafter.
So this morning I made a strong pot of black coffee and some basil popovers with garlic chili butter to celebrate my ingredients! Popover recipe from Williams Sonoma.
Basil: Protection, Prosperity, Fertility, Partnership, Love
Coffee: Passion, Spirituality, Focus, Creativity
Delicacies also gives back. Working with the perennial head of their very own chef’s table, the renowned Andrew Zimmern, they partner with three talented chefs each year and select hunger relief organizations to give back to. Currently they have teamed up with chef Gavin Kays and his charity Appetite for Change.
I love everything Delicacies represents and they ways in which they bring together so many integral aspects of the culinary world. Food is about memory, community, gathering, and lends so much meaning to each of our own personal histories. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Delicacies founder and designer Nicolle R. Nelson to find out more about the brand and hew own history.
Nicolle Nelson Delicacies Interview
Christine: You mentioned a fever dream as being the catalyst behind the idea for your company—I love those moments of epiphany! Can you tell me a bit about the process of transforming the idea into a tangible reality?
Nicole Nelson: My husband, daughter and I all contracted dengue fever 4 years ago (right around the endow October, actually!), which is where the “fever” part of the fever dream came into being. During dengue, I woke up — or maybe was still asleep and dreamed it — but for a very lucid moment I saw the Delicacies garlic bracelet on my wrist. After recovering, I started the long process of transforming my vision into reality.
As I had never designed jewelry before, it was a very steep learning curve. It took over two years to create the product that we are selling now. In the beginning, I knew nothing about leather, or silver, or wax models or metal molds. And it took quite awhile to find the design team I work with now; I worked with four wax carvers and three different casting people! It was the same with product design: the clasps, the leather bracelets and the way the ingredient attaches to the leather all took countless hours of design and re-design. But in the end, I think we created very beautiful pieces of jewelry that focus on whole, simple ingredients.
C:Where do you get your images/models for the ingredients? Once you have an idea for an ingredient what are the steps to creating a bracelet or charm?
NN:I look through countless images on the internet and also typically go to the grocery store or markets to find the perfect models for our ingredients. Our goal is to never have our ingredients look too perfect or pretty; we strive for authenticity. (After all, what’s prettier than the sight of fresh vegetables at the farmer’s market in the summer?) From there I work with my wax carver to get the shape and the size just right, and from there the wax model goes to the people who cast, polish and finally assemble the ingredients on the leather.
C:Can you tell me a bit about the design aesthetic of your jewelry line?
Our aesthetic is delicate, sophisticated and modern, with a dash of whimsy and humor for good measure. (After all, you cannot be *too* serious about yourself with a pig around your neck, right?!)
C:Delicacies celebrates food and ingredients and how they bring people together. I also love that you took pains put an emphasis on the lore behind each ingredient. Can you share a little about the role that food and cooking played in your own personal history?
NN:Both my husband and I grew up in families that celebrated the home cook. My grandma June made a killer roast chicken and pecan pie. At 96 years old, my grandma Gertie still has a huge sweet tooth and bakes the world’s most delicious desserts, several a week. (My weakness for baked goods definitely comes from her.) My mom and dad each had their culinary specialities: my mom shined with holiday meals, standing rib roast for Christmas Eve and leg of lamb for Easter, plus all the fixins’. And almost nothing beat my dad’s pan fried walleye, served as “shore lunch” on deserted islands in northern Minnesota while spending the day in the boat fishing.
And the tradition continues. These days, my husband and I cook almost every night together. We live in Merida, Mexico, where we don’t get a lot of Asian or Indian food, so most of our meals are centered around these Eastern tangy, spicy, sweet and sour flavors. But, like my Grandma June, we also make a mean roast chicken and often cook with the fresh seafood that we get in our local market (which was swimming in the nearby Gulf a few hours previously.)
To us, food is love. We use it to celebrate, comfort, sustain, enjoy and treat ourselves — and our friends and family.
C:Not only are you pursuing a passion, but you also collaborate with incredible chefs like Andrew Zimmern to provide funds to hunger relief organizations. How did this aspect of your brand come about? What is it like to make an impact in the lives of those in need?
NN:I have a 9 year old daughter and one of the most important things to my husband and me is teaching her is empathy for her fellow human beings. As we live most of the year in Mexico, she is no stranger to the reality of poverty. What strikes us even more, however, is the poverty, homelessness and hunger we see when we travel back to the US, one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Delicacies commits money to hunger-related issues (and we commit time to them through volunteering) because we believe that having good, healthy food to eat should be (but unfortunately isn’t) a basic human right.
C:And now, because I’m dying to know! What is your ingredient and why?
NN:I have two! I cannot pick just one! The ginger and the octopus.
The ginger because I simply love the ingredient itself and use it with abandon in my thai curry pastes that we make from scratch.
Second, I’ve worn the octopus pendant since it was created. The octopus represents perseverance, and it is the energy I have needed most since starting on my Delicaceis entrepreneurial journey. I never could have imagined the moments of doubt and fear that come with this journey (or, conversely, the feelings of satisfaction and happiness!) But every time I doubt myself or this journey, I literally reach for my octopus around my neck. As we say on our website, it reminds me to “wear the octopus to push you toward the fathoms that frighten you. Be confident that you will emerge from the wreck, not unscathed but stronger — with a good story to tell.” Good advice for pst anything in life.