Things We Love: Picks from Cara Mangini of Little Eater

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

After working as an executive in the cosmetics and fashion industry in New York for a decade, Cara Mangini quit her job to pursue her dream of opening a vegetable-based food business. She enrolled in a culinary arts program, traveled extensively to gather inspiration for recipes, and worked as a vegetable butcher. In 2012, Mangini settled in Columbus and launched Little Eater, a pop-up restaurant that also sold packaged vegetable salads at local grocers. In February, Mangini expanded the concept with a restaurant in the North Market. She also recently announced plans to open Little Eater Produce and Provisions at the North Market, and she’s writing a cookbook — an A-to-Z guide to vegetables — that’s due out next year.

Spring veggies

Right now I cannot wait for spring vegetables. We’ve been cutting into winter root vegetables and squashes since the fall, and I’m so looking forward to grassy, verdant vegetables, like asparagus, ramps, garlic scapes, peas and all those things that mark the arrival of spring. That day can’t come fast enough for me.

Korin Japanese chef’s knifeandGood Grips Julienne Peelerby OXO

I have a wonderful new Japanese knife from Korin. It has this gorgeous wood handle and a beautiful high carbon steel blade and it’s stunning. A good chef’s knife is completely indispensable. It’s the best tool you can have in the kitchen. I also love a really simple manual julienne peeler. You can peel vegetables into fine ribbons, and it’s sometimes easier than pulling out a mandolin or spiralizer, because those things can take up a lot of space. I love that this is a very simple tool and you can easily access the vegetable and break it down.

Shopping at Rowe Boutique

I think Rowe Boutique [in the Short North] is an incredible spot, and the clothing is so well curated and selected. Whenever I have the opportunity to shop, or if I need something for a special occasion, or to treat myself, that’s the place I go.

KorresOrganic beauty products

While I eat really healthy food and am very concerned about what goes into what I eat and what I feed other people, my beauty products didn’t necessarily reflect the same thing. So I started out last year thinking that I really wanted to clean out my cosmetic drawers. On a trip to Greece, I found these amazing products that they just sell at the pharmacy there — Korres. I love them and am totally obsessed with them — and they’re free of all of the biggest offender ingredients. I love the eye cream, face creams and soaps. You can get them at Sephora now, though I definitely stocked my suitcase before I left Greece, because they were so much less expensive there.

Veggie sushi and miso soup at Akai Hana

I love going to Akai Hana [on the Northwest Side]. It’s like my new weekly thing that I do, because I don’t really take any time off from working right now. Even just getting outside of the city center a little bit, to Akai Hana, and having veggie sushi and miso soup, feels like I am going far away. That has gotten me through winter.

Running outdoors

I love to exercise and run outdoors. I feel a little grumpy right now coming out of the winter because I love to be outdoors and active. That’s my biggest hobby outside of cooking. I used to run around the Short North in Goodale Park, but I just moved to Clintonville. I run at the gym during the winter and will be running along the bike trail this spring and summer.

Turning apassion into a career

I’ve turned my greatest hobby into my work. I feel really lucky I get to do what I love every day. I had a whole other life and career in the beauty industry and I loved it, for sure, but when I really felt like it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever, I needed to decide, ‘What is that thing I am meant to be doing?’ I asked myself, ‘If you could do anything, on a Saturday, or if you had one day off, what would you do?’ For me it was really to cook for friends and family and bring people together around the table. That’s the thing I love to do most, so I decided to figure out a way to make that my job.

Cara Mangini

Little Eater