Monday, June 9

Profile: Katie Lee Joel

This past Friday I had the pleasure of speaking with Katie Lee Joel. I have been suffering from closet envy from the moment I laid eyes on Katie’s amazing closet featured in Town and Country this past March. I was struck not only by her natural beauty, but her impeccable taste. Being a Southerner, I was curious to find out more about this captivating foodie and West Virginia native. Like many I have been anxiously awaiting her new book The Comfort Table.

When it comes to cookbooks I have more than I actually need and I tend to be quite picky. I want a cookbook that is pleasing to the eye, easy to read and bursting with wonderful recipes. The Comfort Table delivers on all three merits but the real bonus is Katie. Not only is she a lovely person, she is also down-to-earth and talented to boot.

I especially applaud her message of conscious consumption and emphasis on fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, which Katie describes as "being aware of what you eat and how it affects not only your own body but ultimately everyone around you and future generations to come."

Katie developed a passion for food at an early age, "I was raised in my grandmother's kitchen and I come from a family of great cooks.” After graduating with a degree in English and journalism from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, she moved to the Hamptons to work as the house fishmonger for Jeff and Eddy’s and began writing for Hamptons magazine.

Designer Nate Berkus and architect Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami used gold-leaf to transform a 105 sq. ft. vestibule between the master bedroom and bath. Town & Country March 2008/ Photograph by Miki Duisterhof.

As much as I adore this book, I had to ask about the incredible Nate Berkus. Katie enlisted Nate to oversee the decoration of the West Village home she shares with her husband Billy Joel. Of course I wanted to know if Nate is as adorable in person as he is on television. “Absolutely!” she said, “Even more so in person!”

The two became fast friends during the redecorating process and Nate gives her book a resounding endorsement. "I have had more home cooked meals around Katie's table than anywhere else in recent years...and each evening, whether two friends or ten, is filled with warmth, laughter, and of course, incredible food. Southern comfort in the heart of the city...don't turn down an invitation if you ever have the chance." If I get an invitation from Katie I promise I won’t turn it down.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project
Two people, actually. My friend, author Kathy Freston, and my yoga teacher, Nicole Nichols. Kathy is very spiritual and a strict vegan and Nicole is very insightful and spiritual as well. I'd like to explore the mind-body connection of food with the two of them together. I find different types of diets very interesting and I like the challenge of developing recipes around their requirements.

What is your favorite food memory?
Weekend breakfasts at my grandparents' home were always special. Everyone would sit around the kitchen table and talk and eat for hours. Whenever I make a batch of my grandmother’s biscuits, my mind goes right back to those mornings.

How would you describe the perfect dinner party
I don't think there's really such thing as a "perfect" dinner party because something is always bound to be a little different than expected. But that's what keeps it interesting and fun. It's all about how you handle the situations thrown at you.

My best dinner parties include diverse groups of friends. I love bringing together my friends who don't know each other and watching them connect. Other key elements include great food and music, and most importantly, a relaxed atmosphere.

What drives your desire for conscious consumption?
Conscious consumption is being aware of where your food comes from and how it was raised, and ultimately how it affects not only your own body, but future generations as well. I love my comfort foods, but to be truly comforted by my food, I must know where it comes from first.

What is your most prized possession?
Our home. We worked really hard to make it just the way we like it and it's so comfortable. Dorothy said it best – “There's no place like home.”

What is the one thing in life you can't live without
I absolutely couldn't live without my dogs, Fionula and Sabrina. They are both pugs and are like two little comedians.

What food trends have outlived their shelf life?
I'm really tired of truffled-everything. Don't get me wrong, I think truffle oil has its place, but I think it's terribly over-used and can be quite over-powering.

What in your opinion is the perfect comfort food
Fried chicken, without a doubt. I could eat it every day and never get tired of it.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
I'd love to meet Alice Waters. I think she is one of the greatest food revolutionaries of our time and I'd love the opportunity to spend a day with her going to farm stands and cooking a meal.

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
I'm kind of messy in the kitchen. I really don't like to do dishes, so I usually leave a big pile in the sink and deal with it the next day.


Anonymous said...

As always a great interview Ronda. She is just adorable, must get her book.

Anonymous said...

She seems nice, but it's hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that she really married for love, not money. Not that it's any of my business!

pve design said...

I love all her answers, I agree with the importance of our food and how we nourish our bodies for generations. I love yoga and have to admit, you can take a girl from Kentucky out of Kentucky, but never take the love for her Mother's secret recipe, "fried chicken!" Alice Waters inspires me too!
another all the best interview with a star, comfortable in her own shoes.

ALL THE BEST said...

Anonymous, she really is a very lovely person. I guess only those in a relationship truly know the other person's heart.

ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks Anne. Yes, do get her's a good one!

Anonymous said...

Rhonda you are right on the money, only those in the relationship know their true feelings. Nice profile, I like her.

ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks Jan.

swanklighting said...

I agree, a great interview! I would love to cook and live more like Katie Lee does.

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

She is absolutely darling, not to mention gorgeous!!!! Loved the interview. As always, fab job, Ronda.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

The closet is nearly as beautiful as her! What a great way to make a small space bright -so glamorous!

rebecca said...

Wow, she's actually as old as my husband, and from the same town and him too, Huntington, WV!! I wonder if he knows her... I'll have to ask. Crazy!

Great interview. Billy Joel is one of my favorites, and she's gorgeous, seems so down to earth. :)

Suzy said...

Sounds like a great book, and she seems lovely too - great interview!

blah said...

Rhonda - you are a mazing ... This past Friday I had the pleasure to speak with Katie Lee Joel last week !

How do you do it?

Were you at her book launch? did you email her? did you used to go to school together?

I know! Are you related??!! :-) :-) :-)

You are an amazing woman :-) Great scoop and great interview

ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks ATB&B! As my husband says, sometimes you get lucky! :-)

ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks for all of the sweet comments.

Anonymous said...

Very nice profile!

You might find Paul Lowe's blog, SweetPaul, an utter and delicious delight - he did both the food and prop styling for Kathie Lee Joel's book.

The recent Domino Magazine article also had me swooning over KLJ's kitchen - the floor to ceiling window grid is beautiful!

Here are the SweetPaul links:



cotedetexas said...

Thaanks for this! I have to say I have been so disgusted by things I have read on blogs about this couple. I think they both are adorable!!! She was on Howard Stern the other day with Beth O - Howard's fiance and the two of them were so darling and sweet - and so obviously in love with their partners. it's hard to even imagine it's not a marraige of true love.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you about those other blogs, Joni! Cote de Texas always tells the truth! I am sure those two marriages will be super-solid.


Anonymous said...

After reading your interview, I think I'll have to order The Comfort Table. Thanks for an interesting read...I'll have to refer my readers to it. Cheers!

Ann said...

Katie Lee Joel is so gorgeous. She breaks our old-fashioned concept of a cook, fat or somebody stocky and ultra clean in the kitchen. Great girl... I also do not like to do dishes.:)

Coveiter said...

wonderful interview. thank you.

{ julie } said...

A very dear friend of mine Noel Rush, works for Billy J and is with him 90% of the time and has told me time and again, they are great together and that she is a great and genuine gal...
i am sure the money does not hurt either;-)

phyllisellsworth said...

Life is So unpredictable.Who would think they would be seperated now?
She seems to be Beautiful inside & out.I hope everyone will find happiness.Also sending Hugs to Alexa Ray, another Beautiful person,Go Bless!