Katie Lee

Cookbook author and co-host of Food Network’s The Kitchen, Katie Lee is a favorite foodie of ours. Not only does she make all things culinary appealing, but she also may be one of the sweetest TV hosts we’ve met, not to mention that she looks (unnaturally) like the gorgeous heroine of one of our favorite movies, Love Story (Ali MacGraw, anyone?). She gave us the inside scoop on beauty routines, dinner party go-tos and edible arrangements…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day? 

My ideal food day actually happens quite often, especially in the summer.  I spend most of my time in the Hamptons and I think we have some of the best food anywhere in the world.  I would start my ideal food day with coffee and a croissant from Loaves and Fishes, and fruit, like really ripe peaches and berries. For lunch, I’d stop at the Green Thumb farm stand and pick up their freshly picked lettuce and some veggies, like zucchini, peppers, corn, and tomatoes. Then I’d take it home and make a big salad. For dinner, I would fire up my pizza oven and make Neapolitan style pizzas and drink wine with a bunch of friends. (I went to pizza school last year and I am absolutely obsessed with making pizza!)

How do you always start your day? 

I start every day with a big cup of coffee. I can’t function without my morning coffee. I have a light breakfast, watch the news, read the paper and do some e-mails. Then I am out the door to get my butt kicked at Tracy Anderson’s gym. It’s the best workout I have ever done. In order for me to eat all of the food that I love so much, I have to make exercise a priority.

Could you give us your morning and nightly beauty routines? 

My beauty routine is pretty simple – cleanse and moisturize. I have been using coconut oil in place of a night cream and I’ve found that it’s made a real difference. My make-up artist, Julie Tussey, likes to add a little bit of oil to foundation, so I’ve started mixing a tiny bit of coconut oil into mine. It makes your make-up go on smoothly and gives a nice glow without looking greasy. I also use coconut oil as a hair mask once a week.  Occasionally, I’ll use Shiseido retinol face masks and eye patches.

In terms of health and diet, how do you practice beauty from the inside out?

Luckily, most of my favorite foods are also healthy foods. I really believe that’s where a beauty routine should start – with what you put in your body. I eat tons of berries, almonds, avocado, kale, quinoa, chia seeds, flax seeds, and salmon. I also think that exercising and sweating helps get out all of the toxins.

How would you define your personal entertaining style? 

I entertain quite often, especially in the summer. I like to keep things really casual but still nice. I call it the 3 c’s – casual, comfortable, and a touch of couture. I think it’s fun to have a theme for the meal too, so I’ll do a Moroccan night, a pizza party, or a Jamaican barbecue.

What do you always put out at a dinner party? 

It’s not a party at my house without deviled eggs.

What do you always bring to one as a guest?

I make my version of an edible arrangement by filling a basket with a bunch of fruit and veggies from the farm stand.

What’s the ultimate dinner party faux pas?

Tardiness. If you’re invited to a dinner party, especially if it is a sit-down or a small gathering, show up on time.

If you’re the host, don’t make cocktail hour too long. There is no “s” on the end of hour for a reason. It should be an hour, or an hour and a half, at the maximum. People are hungry. They want dinner.

What’s your go-to afternoon snack?

I love an apple and peanut butter. My mom used to give me that every day after school and I still eat it a few days a week.

What’s a go-to recipe when eating at home? 

I’ve been making a recipe I learned on The Kitchen from Geoffrey Zakarian quite a bit. It is for Dijon Pesto Salmon. It only sounds fancy, but it is so easy to make and perfect for a single gal home alone or for a dinner party. All you do is mix a little Dijon into store-bought pesto, spread it on the salmon and bake at 250 degrees for about ten to fifteen minutes (depending on how done you like it). Geoffrey says it’s best to cook salmon at a low heat since it’s a high fat fish. It is so yummy. I usually just have it with a baked sweet potato and a salad.

What are your vices? 

Oh, there are so many. Ice cream and popcorn are probably the two biggest. I need ice cream every night. Even if it’s just a spoonful, I have to have it. To make popcorn, I use my paper grocery bags. I add kernels, a little oil, roll the top down and stick it in the microwave for about four minutes. Then I drizzle in melted butter and salt or any seasonings, shake, and pour in a bowl. It’s so easy and no clean up!

What’s always in your fridge?

Sauvignon blanc, cheese, and whole milk for my coffee.

Ingredient you consider overrated…

I really dislike white truffle oil. It is so overpowering.

Ingredient you’re convinced makes everything better…

Believe it or not, I think garlic salt makes just about everything taste better. I use it to season meat before cooking and I put it in spice mixtures.

What’s always in your bag on set?

My dog, Fionula! Well, she’s not exactly in my bag, but I always bring her. She is like the mascot of The Kitchen and hangs out with us all day.  She is fourteen and kind of cranky but still spunky. On her birthday, we were filming an episode with Martha Stewart. Martha made a crazy good cake and I got to take pictures of Fionula with Martha and the cake. I am such a Martha fan, so I was pretty excited about it.

In the same vein as what is the new black, what is the new potato in food? 

I think vegetables in general are the new potato in food. I’m so into this trend of restaurants making veggies the “stars” of their menus.  I go to Narcissa often so I can order the rotisserie-grilled sweet potatoes and the carrots wellington. I also crave the kale and egg paella at Bobby Flay’s new restaurant GATO. It’s my favorite dish on the menu.

What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?

In New York City, Ballato, Locanda Verde, Marea, Tamarind, Narcissa, GATO, The Lamb’s Club, Kaffe 1668, and Strip HouseIn Los Angeles, Tower Bar, Polo Lounge, Joan’s on Third, Giorgio Baldi, and Gjelina. In Paris, Chez L’ami Louis, Le Dome, Spring, Bistrot Paul Bert, Ladurée, Café de Flore, Au Moulin a Vent, and Le Voltaire. In the Hamptons and Montauk, Dave’s Grill, Nick and Toni’s, East Hampton Grill, Suki Zuki, Harvest, and 1770 House. In San Francisco, Tartine and The Slanted Door.

If you could host a dinner party with any five people, living or dead, who would be there? What would you cook?

I would have Nora Ephron, Gloria Steinem, Chelsea Handler, Ali MacGraw, and Hillary Clinton. I’d make something really simple, like roast chicken and potatoes, because I wouldn’t want to miss a moment of the conversation.


*Katie Lee, photographed at The Lamb’s Club in New York City by Danielle Kosann. Katie wears a Rag & Bone shirt, ALC skirt, Barbara Bui shoes, and a Balenciaga necklace.