INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY KATINA GOULAKOS
Katie Lee is one of the most endearing subjects we at Imagista have ever worked with. This self proclaimed “home cook” is the perfect girl next door, she is sweet, beautiful and down to earth, which are just some of her incredible qualities. When Lee is not co-hosting The Kitchen or cooking up a storm in her kitchen, she spends her time in the water. This athletic chef tries to create delicious and healthy recipes, perfect for after a day of surfing, which is another passion of hers.
We got the chance to sit down once again with Katie Lee, this time in The Hamptons, the place where she calls home.
Imagista: How did you get into cooking?
Katie: I grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen, she was my babysitter and most of my memories with her consist of cooking. When I got to college cooking became a bigger part of a pop culture. As a journalism major, I found inspiration in magazines like Gourmet and Bon Appetit. My dream was to write a column in a magazine, I really never imagined I would end up with this career.
Growing up I didn’t really think of cooking as a profession I would want to pursue because I assumed I had to be confined to being a chef at a restaurant. However, in college my horizons were broadened and I began to envision myself as part of the culinary world.
Imagista: What was your first break in the industry?
Katie: Twelve years ago, before blogs were even cool, a friend and I began a food blog. From there the doors kept opening up for me in the industry and it hasn’t stopped since.
Imagista: Do you consider yourself a chef or a cook?
Katie: I consider myself a home cook. I never went to culinary school or had any real professional training and I don’t want to claim to be something I am not. My recipes are simple; simple meals for people who do not have training in the kitchen.
Imagista: Let’s say you are having a dinner party for a couple friends in the summer, what would you serve?
Katie: There are so many things I could make, however I like to stick to a certain formula. I always serve some sort of protein and I love striped bass. Living in the Hamptons I have access to delicious fresh fish and the striped bass here is to die for. I would roast the fish in the oven, chop up some cherry tomatoes, olives, lemon zest, garlic and capers. I would then prepare a green salad with homemade vinaigrette.
I also like to add some sort of grain, which I usually prepare ahead of time like a pesto pasta salad for example. For desert I would make an Angel food cake and serve it with some delicious fresh fruits or maybe I would make ice cream sandwiches, again both of these can be made in advance.
I try and do as much prep before my guests arrive so that I can enjoy spending time with them. I am a social girl and as much as I love being in the kitchen I don’t want to be cooking all night. I want to be able to sit down and enjoy a drink and a meal with my friends.
Imagista: Do you like to drink? Are you a wine drinker?
Katie: I love rosé, especially in the summertime. I feel like it should just be called adult Kool-Aid!
Imagista: If you could eat one type of food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Katie: That’s an easy one, Italian! Pastas, pizzas antipasti, tiramisu, I love it all. Just the way the Italians grill a piece of fish with olive oil is incredible and I admire the simplicity and beauty behind every dish. I am actually going to Rome tomorrow so I am looking forward to eating!
Imagista: If you weren’t in the food industry, what would you do?
Katie: A lot of people would assume I would be a journalist but actually I think I would be a facialist – there is something extremely satisfying about popping pimples, maybe I’m a little weird I don’t know but that is what I would probably be doing if I wasn’t living this life (laughs).
Imagista: In the world of food, who do you admire most and why?
Katie: I would have to say Barefoot Contessa. I really admire her incredible books and recipes; she has been a huge inspiration to me. I had to honor of going to her beautiful home for lunch and she is truly a fascinating woman as well as a huge influence on the culinary world.