In Search of Beauty on a Plate with Aiste Miseviciute & Luxeat
“Gastronomy is both an art form, a reflection of our civilization, and our cultural backgrounds,” writes Aiste Miseviciute on the site of her culinary platform Luxeat. “I have discovered that behind every ingredient, every dish, every restaurant, there is always a fascinating story, an exciting personal quest. And this is precisely what I am trying to do with Luxeat: provide exceptional dining experiences by organizing unique events, recommending my favorite restaurants, and sharing the stories of the chefs, cooks, and other food magicians who bring joy not only to our tables but also to our souls.”
Intrigued? I was! And delighted I became after having the honor of speaking with Aiste Miseviciute about her journey to Luxeat, and all the fabulous platform has to offer gastronomy lovers around the world! Her story and drive are inspiring; a truly empowered woman, empowering in the world of culinary arts.
Explore the Beautiful World of Gastronomy with Aiste Miseviciute, Founder of Luxeat
Love Happens: As our name, and the tagline of our publisher KOKET denotes, at ‘Love Happens’ we are firm believers that you cannot achieve any level of success without love. When did your love affair with gastronomy begin? How did it make you feel?
Aiste Miseviciute: That’s a great question. It was actually born when I moved to Paris at 18 years old from Lithuania to work as a fashion model. Coming from Lithuania, we didn’t have that restaurant culture as in the western world, I was still very much born in the Soviet Union. Lithuania was changing, but we still didn’t have the Paris culture. For me, it really changed my life when I moved to Paris. To sit outside in a cafe and look at the beautiful surroundings and have a glass of wine. It was just life-changing.
My love for it was also very connected to aesthetics at the same time. Probably, my most memorable restaurant experience was on my 19th birthday in a 2 Michelin Star restaurant in Paris called Apicius. It doesn’t really exist anymore in the same form. I just remember the dessert called “tout caramel,” everything in caramel, and for me, a girl who grew up on Snickers, it was kind of wow. The dessert was so beautiful. It’s all about the taste, but at the same time, it’s all about the presentation because we eat with our eyes. I guess Paris changed my life.
Lh: Tell us about your move from modeling to cuisine. And your decision to start Luxeat.
Aiste: So forward 4 years, I moved to New York City in 2004 to work as a fashion model. I did really well. I did Vogue covers and Mirror covers. And New York was really great at that time because it was very exciting for food. David Cheng had just opened Momofuku, and there were very interesting things happening in the world of gastronomy at the time. And also, it was way before Instagram times when everyone can be a blogger nowadays. I founded my blog, and its tagline was “Who said models don’t eat?”. It was one of the first food blogs writing about restaurants, so I’m kind of a dinosaur in that sense.
There is something about being a dinosaur because you keep all the connections you made 15 years ago. And yeah, I was one of the first bloggers in New York City, and I found this whole new world of people who love eating and traveling. And I found people who go to restaurants, they travel to the most remote villages to eat something. It doesn’t have to be super luxury or fine dining. It’s just people who love food.
I was blogging, and I was featured in a Swedish National T.V. documentary called Food is the Culinary Jetset. I’m not a big fan of how I was presented there, but it’s okay; it was a fun experience because we shot in very beautiful places. And then, of course, modeling is not forever. Especially nowadays, the career is very short. So I decided to stop modeling and move forward and change my career.
In 2016 I started doing events where I bring in really important chefs from Japan whose restaurants are really hard to book if you’re not a regular and especially if you are a foreigner. I brought them to Ibiza, and I collaborated with them for the last two years until the pandemic happened. I really love doing that. At the moment, I do all kinds of events, not only Japanese, bringing cultures together, finding interesting concepts for people to experience.
Lh: What made you interested in Japanese cuisine, specifically?
Aiste: Well, first of all, I really love Japanese aesthetics; it’s very soothing, it’s very clean, and it’s very minimalist. For me, aesthetics are very important, and I love Japanese food. It’s the perfect match. When you eat Japanese food, you feel healthy. It’s not that heavy.
Lh: Talk to us more about your events pre-covid and also now.
Aiste: Pre-pandemic, I worked mainly with Japanese chefs, bringing them to Europe. We collaborated with big chefs like Albert Adria, one of the elBulli founders. Also, with Michellin chefs in London and Paris, usually Japanese, because it’s a very interesting process for me. Japanese chefs don’t compromise, so it’s really a big job to find the right ingredients that they’ll accept working with.
I can tell you one anecdote. In my first event in Ibiza, when the chefs came, the airlines lost their luggage. It was their clothes, their knives, and even some ingredients like condiments. Now imagine a Japanese master cooking in his casual clothes. It could have been a disaster. We even went to one of those cheap shops where they sell Asian ingredients like instant dashi. But then, thankfully, they found their luggage just two hours before. It was a real miracle.
Lh: What size are your events?
Aiste: Recently, we did an event in Bologna. It was called Pasta Tour de Force. We visited the most important trattorias and ate pasta, lots of pasta. This was just 12 people. But my Japanese events, usually, can be up to 180 – 200 over a few days.
I love finding different concepts that interest me. Because for me, as your magazine is, your philosophy too, is about love, love for what you do. I need to be interested in that; otherwise, it’s just boring, I guess.
Lh: Tell us about your most recent event this past July.
Aiste: Yes, Alain Passard’s gardens. We visited the 3-Michelin star chef’s garden in Normandy, where he cooked for just a small group. He’s a genius, you know. Twenty years ago, he had classical training and decided suddenly to cook with only vegetables, to refuse all protein. He’s an amazing person and a true artist. During the event, we toured his beautiful gardens, where he picks all his vegetables. It is very beautiful to see where your food is coming from. I think it’s so important to learn about that.
Lh: The Artisans’ Box is such a wonderful addition to your Luxeat platform. Tell us more about these curated boxes of the world’s finest ingredients.
Aiste: The Artisans’ Box is my philosophy in a box. I found the best artisans in their own niche, in what they do. For example, we just visited one of the ingredient makers in Bologna, Acetaia San Giacomo Balsamico. This is like really amazing aceto di balsamico di modena, and they create it in a very artisanal way. Andrea Bezzeccchi is the creator and sells to fine dining chefs in New York and around Europe. This is one of the amazing ingredients.
I find that luxury, nowadays, is about knowing and quality rather than luxury in the sense that we used to think. No logos, no brands, just something of really good quality. I think it’s so important to support artisans. Acetaia San Giacomo is a family business. It gets so hot in Europe. I don’t know how they work in such heat. It is always so amazing seeing all the barrels aging. It’s really extraordinary.
Lh: What empowers you most?
Aiste: Definitely the stories of artisans and the stories of these people that dedicate their lives for their cause and for what they do. No matter what they do, and no matter how difficult it is, they just keep going and keep doing and improving. They don’t say that’s their final aim; it’s about the process. I would also say that feeling the reward of my guests who hopefully enjoyed my trips and my dinners. It’s so rewarding to have guests that come back and believe in what I do. It’s the people that empower me most.
Lh: Favorite city(s) for gastronomy?
Aiste: I would say Tokyo, for sure. And for sure Paris. Also, San Sebastian and its surroundings. I really miss Hong Kong. I think Hong Kong has the most amazing dining scene. So Tokyo, Paris, San Sebastian, Hong Kong, and Mexico City.
Lh: If you could say one thing to your younger self, what would it be?
Aiste: I would say, continue doing what you’re doing and what you believe. And don’t give up. I think we’re rewarded when we do things right. It’s a bit cliche, but…
Lh: Do you have a food motto?
Aiste: Eating should be done…and really everything should be in moderation. For me, it’s very important to appreciate food and the job people have to create that food. For me, it’s definitely about understanding appreciation rather than showing off or just going to nice places. There are so many Instagrammers and foodies who do that. So I think it’s that; appreciation and moderation as well. We don’t need to eat that much, and we don’t need to eat that much meat. We have to eat what we need, not what we see just on the table.
Lh: What is next for Aiste Miseviciute and Luxeat?
Aiste: We are working on new trips for this autumn. We are also doing a very big trip to San Sebastian, in the Basque region. And then I’m planning to do a truffle hunting trip in Alba in November. So everything we are working on is very seasonal. Then hopefully, Mexico City.