Mama Leela Cyd Being Creative in the Kitchen, and Everywhere Else

Mama Leela Cyd being creative in the kitchen, and everywhere else. Photographed by Danielle Rubi

Our intention in starting DÔEN was to always be true to ourselves in what we create: to our aesthetic, our roots, and our customer, while still allowing ourselves to evolve and grow in a natural, inspired way. That’s the type of spirit we admire, and it’s one Leela Cyd has exuded ever since I met her. We first crossed paths in middle school in Santa Barbara, and even back then Leela had an amazing energy, a warm, full-of-life, creative presence that I was drawn to and admired. Her aesthetic is one that is clear, tangible but with the perfect touch of chaos and spontaneity. One that is uniquely her own in a way you couldn't recreate because it is fueled by her specific creative energy and joy. I have loved following along as Leela's grown in her career, built her world, and now becoming a mama.

She’s built her creative world on photography of all sorts, with a focus on making, styling, and photographing food, which has led her to writing and shooting her own cookbooks*. Her work has a casual, free-spirited, unexpected style that looks truly effortless; her still life photos are full of life, and you can feel the joy, love, and passion for living that Leela brings to each one. See below for Leela’s own special recipe for Candied Citrus Rose Syrup, and for more shots taken on a bright Santa Barbara afternoon.

– Katherine

*Leela's new cookbook Cooking Up Trouble will be available June 1st at - 100% of the sales will be going to Planned Parenthood. By Leela Cyd and Anne Parker


"I first had a version of this sunshiny syrup while traveling in Japan, where most coffee shops display a large jar of lemons floating in simple syrup. With a tiny, adorable ladle, the servers would splash a little syrup into ice water for a pungent lemonade. Here I’m presenting a slightly more dolled-up version by adding a variety of citrus and delicately aromatic rose petals. You can endlessly riff on this idea – for example, try sticking to just one type of fruit and add fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary or lavender. Simply follow the ratio of honey to fruit given below and let your imagination roam."

2 cups thinly sliced tangerines, with peel

2 cups thinly sliced Meyer lemons, with peel

2 cups thinly sliced Eureka lemons, with peel

1 ½ cups thinly sliced kumquats

2 cups honey

3 small fresh, organically-grown roses, petals only (discard the interior and any stem)

Sparkling water to taste


Place all of the citrus slices into a 2-liter jar, tucking in rose petals as you build a tightly packed stack. Heat the honey on medium heat until it becomes a thin syrup with a watery consistency. Carefully pour the honey over the citrus/rose mixture, seal tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours. The citrus and rose will infuse the honey, turning the liquid into a velvety simple syrup. Mix about 2 tablespoons of syrup per 8-ounce glass of sparkling water; stir, and serve immediately. Syrup will keep jarred and sealed in the fridge for up to a week. 

Leela wearing the Lulu Sweater in Macaroon and Colony Dress

Leela wearing the Jardin Dress

Leela wearing the Sorell Dress in Indigo

Leela wearing the Jardin Dress