Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken

Occupations: chefs and co-owners of Border Grill

What kind of handbag?

Susan Feniger: Tumi backpack. My purse is my office.

Mary Sue Milliken: It’s an Elaine Arsenault. It’s made of football leather and it lasts forever. She has a tiny little shop in the East Village and makes her own bags. I like them small and cross body so my hands are free. I was excited when I found this woman. I look for people who have a passion like I do. She thinks about every detail.

What does your handbag say about you?

SF: I literally have always carried a knapsack. I’ve never carried a purse. My role in the company is that I go and I’m at each of the restaurants all the time. I’m constantly carrying my papers. I can’t figure out how to carry things on a computer.

MSM: It’s pretty utilitarian and compact. I have a lot of stuff in a small space. Isn’t that what a handbag is? A support system?

What’s the most important thing in your handbag?

SF: My phone charger.

MSM: My wallets. I can’t do anything without my wallets. I need my Band-Aids and stickers and money and credit cards.

How about the most surprising thing?

SF: When I feel like emptying everything out and find a headband at the bottom of bag that I was looking for.

MSM: I don’t know that many people who travel with a pepper mill. When my mom was sick in the hospital, I had to fly in the middle of the night to Arizona. I didn’t have anything to eat. I was trying to order the least horrible thing at the hospital—eggs. It made everything feel so much better. I don’t like the taste of pre-ground pepper. I refill it once every two months.

What was the first handbag you carried that was memorable?

SF: Maybe that green leather one. I may still have it stuck in my closet. I keep thinking I might use it again. I’m not much of a shopper. I love old stuff.

MSM: For some reason I just remember an Argentinian cross-body leather thing I had in 1972 that had buckles on it. I think I downsized when I did work in Japan. I started to appreciate smaller.

Name eight items in your handbag and why you must carry them:

Susan Feniger

1. My phone charger, for sure. That’s critical.

2. My Lenovo laptop.

3. A meat thermometer.

4. A painted apron from my niece.

5. Fork (not carried all the time).

6. An extra headband.

7. My LAX badge. I can’t get in there without it.

8. Sauza tequila.

Mary Sue Milliken

1. Two Japanese wallets. Everything is in there—toothpicks, my New York Metro pass, hair ties, No Kid Hungry stickers, drink coupons on Southwest airlines.

2. Blink card (in wallet) for charging my electric car.

3. Reusable shopping bag.

4. Tea and tea bags. I drink Darjeeling tea. I have a habit. I buy straight from India. I drink maybe a gallon a day. Darjeeling has a flavor that’s not like anything in the world. It tastes like artichokes in the back of your throat.

5. My pepper mill.

6. Japanese glasses holder.

7. This cumbersome key chain with my mom’s keys and my security card for LAX.

8. Diane Keaton L’Oreal lipstick. I’m a big fan of Diane Keaton.

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