Just in time for Thanksgiving, we bring you the latest installment of our Nails of New York series featuring Brenna White, pastry chef for The Smile To Go (the SoHo little sister of downtown favorite The Smile). We had already been eating the baker's sweet treats for years before we met Brenna. When we finally did, we noticed immediately that she had beautiful nails and so we invited her to Paintbox. Brenna entertained us into The Smile To Go's kitchen post-mani for a fall goodies baking session. We talked accent nails, made saffron apple pie (the secret ingredient for a decadent update on the all-American classic—Thanksgiving bakers take note), and discussed Brenna's inspiration for her wholesome yet delicious desserts.
Brenna wears Divergent from the Paintbox FW'14 Collection.
Why do you paint your nails?
Other than the general pampered feeling, it's the perfect way to be bedazzled without adding any weight to my fingers while I'm typing recipes or baking. I love that it's an easy way to make a statement that is completely custom to you. Sometimes I'm feeling wild, sometimes elegant—it's fun to be able to transfer those sentiments where everyone can see.
To get Brenna's Divergent look in polish, use Zoya Avery as a base, Lancôme Rose Plumetti and O.P.I. Onyx for contrasting stripes, and Smith & Cult Kundalini Hustle for an accent nail.
What is your favorite look or color to wear on your nails? Do you have a favorite polish?
Much like with baking and cooking I'm inspired by seasons (aren't all of us?). Like the deep orange of the pumpkin bread and the yellow gold from the saffron and how they mesh with the leaves changing hues. I love to use multiple colors, and always have an accent nail—sometimes a different finger for each hand. Accent nails always add a bit of spunk.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I was lucky to be given full creative freedom when The Smile elected me to start the pastry program, so I was able to use all my personal collection of recipes, and then take it from there. After that, I was able to grab inspiration everywhere! A lot of it comes from sampling things from adored shops, and from other bakers—it's fun to see what everyone else is up to. I'm a sucker for cooking blogs, of course—I appreciate the bloggers who cook create, test, and then lament about their methods. I'm usually jealous of their ability to take thoughtful and delicious photos. The bakers who work at Smile To Go are also an inspiring bunch, everyone has different ideas and tastes—collaboration is empowering and inspiring! I've been lucky to have such a good group. I savor requests—both the chocolate chip cookie and the banana quinoa muffin started as customers asking for a classic chocolate chip cookie and a healthier morning muffin. It's cool to be able to come through for them and maybe make everyone feel like they're part of the bakery.