Conversation with: Katie Lee
March 12, 2015
As we continue to celebrate bold women with bold voices, we turn the spotlight to Katie Lee, co-host of Food Network’s The Kitchen and author of two cookbooks, The Comfort Table and The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions. Lee published her first novel, Groundswell, in 2011 and her fourth book, The Endless Summer Cookbook, publishes in April 2015. Here, she shares her philosophy on cooking and tells us about her closet.
NM: Neiman Marcus is celebrating “Noisemakers”—bold women with bold voices. What does making some noise mean to you?
KL: It’s important to me to be myself and to speak my truth. When I was younger, I was so concerned with what people thought. As I’ve matured and had more experiences, I have become much more comfortable with who I am and having my own voice. I speak up for my beliefs and myself.
NM: Your philosophy on cooking is all about comfort foods and seasonal ingredients. What made this a focus for you?
KL: I grew up in a small town in West Virginia, and my grandmother was an amazing cook. My grandpa had a garden, his cousin raised cows, another cousin raised pigs and everyone shared their food. We ate local, seasonal foods because it was economical. Now I live in The Hamptons, where we have some of the country’s best produce farms, fresh seafood, dairy farms, chicken farms and vineyards, so eating locally and seasonally continues to be a way of life for me. The term “farm to table” is so overused at this point, so I hesitate to use it, but almost everything on my dinner table can be sourced from about a twenty-mile radius from my home. For me, comfort food is about knowing where my food came from, how it was raised and how it will affect the environment for future generations.
NM: What female chef has inspired you?
KL: My biggest inspiration has always been my grandmother. She taught me to cook, and she is such a strong woman. When she was in her fifties, she decided to go to college. I am so impressed by her and her accomplishments.
NM: You’re part of the board for Feeding America and the Culinary Council of the Food Bank for New York City. Why are these causes close to your heart?
KL: It is shameful to think of how many people and children that are food insecure in this country. Forty-nine million people face hunger in America and rely on food banks. I hate the thought of a child going to bed hungry. It breaks my heart.
NM: Most challenging part about writing your first novel, Groundswell?
KL: Writing is a lot like going to the gym. Once you get there, you’re okay, but getting there is really difficult. I am the queen of procrastination when it comes to writing. I think of everything I could possibly do (laundry, open mail, call the cable company, polish silver) other than sit down at the computer.
NM: Currently reading?
KL: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
NM: Favorite indulgence that’s always worth the calories splurge?
KL: Soft-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt. I can’t get enough of it!!
NM: What’s the latest app you downloaded?
KL: Pinterest. I am way late to the party on this one and I love it! I use it for inspiration in decorating, cooking and just for daydreaming in general.
NM: What’s the best thing about having a one-on-one relationship with your fans through social media?
KL: I love being able to interact with viewers of The Kitchen in real time. It makes me so happy when someone posts a picture of one of my recipes that they have made. The other day, I got a tweet from a viewer of a picture of her baby eating my pancakes. His little smile made my day!
NM: Your closet in three words:
KL: I like my fashion like my food – casual and comfortable – and my closet like my kitchen pantry
Join the conversation on Friday, March 20 in Austin at NM on Rainey for Katie Lee’s panel discussion. #NMMakeSomeNoise