There is no one more befitting of the title green fragrance pioneer than Mandy Aftel. She has been conjuring up exquisite natural perfumes for decades, far before “green” was even a term people threw around. Besides creating scents, Aftel has also amassed a massive personal collection of perfume-related memorabilia and penned an impressive three books on fragrance, one, a cookbook called Aroma (co-authored by chef Daniel Patterson), that examines the link between food and scent. It’s an examination that she took beyond the page when she designed her series of Chef’s Essences, now available in a very user-friendly spray format. The collection of natural essences diffused in pure corn alcohol can be spritzed on anything from salad to ice cream to add both a powerful aroma and depth of flavor. And they come in pretty handy when your pantry is lacking in certain spices or they are simply out of season. We particularly like the idea of adding a few spritzes to cocktails—like the new blood orange with a flute of prosecco, or sweet basil stirred into a gin and tonic. Aftel’s Essences have helped her rack up plenty of food world fans: in New York alone you can find her bottles being put to good use at Blue Hill, Aldea, Jean Georges, PDT and Pegu Club. And with her feet still firmly planted in the world of perfume as well, Aftel is making what we wear and eat that much more enticing.
Mandy Aftel Chef’s Essence Sprays, $16-22, at aftelier.com