Creatively Speaking With: Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

She makes a mean coffee cake and fully embraces the duality of life. Get to know our multitalented Autumn Whitefield-Madrano.

Who? Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, Associate Editorial Director

Autumn’s creative hero: Claudia Fleming

Why is Claudia Fleming your creative hero?

Because she’s a pioneering pastry chef who introduced many of the flavor sensations that we now take for granted — salt with chocolate, sweet-savory ice creams — to the nation.

What piece of your hero’s work do you come back to again and again?

When I worked at Gramercy Tavern as a pastry cook — a career turn entirely inspired by her work, by the way! — I made the coffee cakes that we sent guests home with after their meal, so that is the genius of hers that I have re-created most frequently. But after trading in my apron strings for the computer keyboard, I now bake just for fun. And is there anything more fun than caramelized tomatoes and plums with a quenelle of basil ice cream?

When do you do your best work?

11 a.m. I’m energized, I’m caffeinated, my brain isn’t overwhelmed yet. It’s me at my activated best.

What was the best piece of creative work you produced for Manifest?

I’m passionate about end-of-life issues, so having a chance to explore “death positivity” through the lens of life insurance for our Aflac client was a treat.

What is your idea of happiness?

That it cannot exist without sadness, grief and despair. Each makes the other more meaningful. Given the choice between a blind, bland happiness and the kind of happiness I treasure because of the sheer fact of its ephemerality, I will choose the latter every time.

What is your idea of misery?

See above.

What is your favorite word?

Well, my favorite sentence of all time is “Liquefy the ectoplasmic cucumber for the pig slop.” Say it. Enunciate it. Such a joy! You’re welcome.