PaperCity Magazine

October 2013 - Houston

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KELLY EMBERG MODEL GARDENER, DISHES ON LOVE, LIFE AND LETTUCE upermodel Kelly Emberg's life has been a series of transformations, rising to fame in the '80s and gracing the covers of Vogue, Glamour, Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan. But first, there was a tomboy childhood in the Memorial area of Houston, where she attended Stratford High School. Her journey saw her leave Houston for New York City and later Los Angeles — she retired from modeling in 1990 and traded a successful interior design practice in L.A. for a life that revolves around friends, family and the earth. With the upcoming launch of a national radio show, a host of charity commitments and children Cole (11), Tyler (15) and Ruby (26, a singer/songwriter living in L.A.), she is a busy woman. Food Made Simple debuted on iHeart Radio in September and has its roots in something just a few steps from her front door. Through this first foray into the airwaves, she aspires to educate people about both growing and eating healthy foods. Emberg, in town for an appearance at the I Am Waters charity luncheon last fall, brought us up to date on love, life and lettuce. H E M P E L Cauliflower comes in all kinds of colors: white, yellow, orange and purple varieties Kelly wearing Twisty Parallel Universe dress from Laboratoria; cuff by Aurélie Biderman from Grange Hall, Dallas, Chloé wedges from Tootsies. JACQUE SILVERSTEIN S S T E V E N JACK THOMPSON B Y Kelly Emberg, shot by Richard Avedon for Vogue in the early '80s Carrots, swiss chard and kale. You have never tasted a carrot the way a carrot is supposed to taste until you grow it yourself. She began modeling at 18 — a decadelong career that led her around the world, from a trip down the Nile to Aswan and Luxor, to work in Petra, Jordan, to Bora Bora for a shoot with Sports Illustrated. While Emberg seemingly had it all, Heirloom tomatoes abound she left modeling beneath a trellis in 1990 after a split of asparagus with pop singer Rod beans in Rancho Santa Fe. Stewart, ending their relationship of seven years. With their daughter Ruby just three at the time, the change gave her more time to be a parent and the opportunity to pursue a degree, something she had given up for modeling. Her subsequent marriage to Mike Padilla, whom she met in Aspen, led her to Rancho Santa Fe, just north of San Diego. An idyllic town known locally as The Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe lies between rolling hills and the Pacific Ocean. The family home, resting on a high point on the land, quickly became the center of Emberg's universe. With a climate Kelly and terrier Dod. Dod loves carrots. Rod Stewart and Kelly Emberg with their daughter, Ruby, in NYC, 1989 JOHN CASABLANCAS DISCOVERED ME IN HOUSTON TEXAS THE SUMMER BEFORE I WAS SUPPOSED TO LEAVE FOR COLLEGE. LETTUCE ENTERTAIN YOU that encourages growing year-round, she tried her hand at gardening, a hobby that became an obsession. She devoured books and information online and enjoyed success with a few seedlings, then large crops of fresh vegetables and herbs. "Growing brought me closer to nature, the seasons and the cycle of life, and it made me want to be kinder to the planet," she says. "I know it may sound corny, but if you planted one seed and it grew into a huge tomato plant with the most delicious tomatoes you have ever tasted in your life, you would understand what I mean." Emberg felt compelled Kim Alexis and Kelly Emberg to educate upon arrival in NY others not only about growing, but about the benefits of a healthy diet, noting that diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity are all preventable through proper diet. As the world's population has grown, new ways of growing have Kelly for Sports Illustrated changed the way we eat. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are present in almost 90 percent of the corn, canola, soybeans and alfalfa plants grown in the United States today. This is fed to animals and exists in almost all processed foods. Emberg hopes to promote awareness and education by teaching people that they can take charge of what goes into their bodies. Her Web site,, was the first step towards that goal. She incorporated her message through gardening and nutrition, supplemented with how-to videos and images. The web page serves as inspiration for others and a great place to begin the education process. Her iHeart Radio program, Food Made Simple, consists of interviews and segments with noted chefs, farmers, nutritionists, authors and the occasional celebrity; sharing ideas and knowledge about the food we grow and eat; inspiring others to begin their path towards a healthy diet; and tips to navigate grocery stores to find healthful alternatives. "Food Made Simple is about simply growing, simply cooking and simply understanding your food," she says. "Once people really understand what is in their food and where it comes from, they will make the right decisions for themselves. I truly believe it." Kelly in the documentary About the Face, 2012, by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders Vogue cover by Richard Avedon Visit for some of Kelly's favorite recipes, including A Simple Margarita and A Simple Salsa — as well as how-to links and tips on starting your own garden. You'll also find images of Kelly's garden and see what's growing now. Chief farmer and founder Joe Icet Farm Art, indeed PHOTOGRAPHY BRENT BRUNI COMISKEY Last Organic Outpost T alk about field to table. While we love our local farmers' markets, nothing is 15 minutes fresher than shopping Last Organic Outpost, an environmentally conscious community garden in the heart of the Fifth Ward that's reviving this historic neighborhood. Founded by refrigeration mechanic Joe Icet — who sought to foster neighborhood agriculture — LOO tills two verdant acres and caught the attention of former Mayor Bill White and, most recently, Council Member Jerry Davis. The former added a City of Houston field to the Outpost's plantings, while the latter is tapping Prairie View A&M to join with this green-centric nonprofit to farm the Fifth Ward's vacant lots. Stop by weekends, 9 am to 4 pm, and a trained picker fills your basket with all manner of fresh, pesticide-free produce. We're enamored with the beautiful lettuces, but The bounty of the field do consider dinosaur kale, now-in-season tomatoes, arugula, carrots, beets and an inspiring variety of shallots and onions. Regularly scheduled classes offer insider sustainable gardening tips. As their sign proclaims on the site's reclaimed commercial building (formerly Comet Rice Mill), this truly is Farm Art. 711 Emile St., 832.422.8407; Catherine D. Anspon

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