Southern Charm and Comforts
Alex Hitz shares his take on classic Southern cooking with a French twist in his new book, My Beverly Hills Kitchen (Knopf), which includes his Heirloom Tomato Pie, seen here. Opposite page: Hitz has spent a lifetime collecting recipes from the likes of his child-hood cooks to world-renowned chefs.
I FIRST MET ALEX HITZ, naturally, over great food. A mutual friend of ours, Gail Monaghan—a globetrotting gourmand and chef who famously entertains in her art-filled Manhattan loft—had invited us both to the same dinner party. Most of us New Yorkers in the mix were dressed in our de rigueur black cocktail wear.
And then there was Alex, in the sharpest of navy blazers and light-catching cuff links. With a sun-kissed complexion, shiny blue eyes, and a Southern drawl that ebbed and flowed in harmony with the fine Bordeaux wine, Alex was the unexpected exception to the swank and serious-at-heart among us. Alex is sort of a legend in his own time. Raised in true Georgia style by a mother with an affinity for France, he grew up between Atlanta and Paris, attuning his taste for both good-ole Southern cooking and haute French fare. His career has spanned times spent running an Atlanta restaurant, producing Broadway shows, and, recently, selling the runaway-hit prep-friendly meals from his company, The Beverly Hills Kitchen, on TV’s QVC.
Today he lives between New York and Beverly Hills, where he frequently hosts dinner parties that are elaborate but never too fancy. His relaxed, genteel disposition still informs everything he does, from making guests feel welcome to indulging the with the best décor, mixed company, and—yes—cuisine. This month, Alex has published a cookbook-cum-memoir that offers the rest of us a glimpse into his singular life and livelihood. In My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist (Knopf), we are invited to share in the stories and recipes of his family, friends, and the famous chefs and celebrities he has learned from along the way. Bon appétit, y’all.
This page, from top left: The author with Peter Bacanovic and Nan Kempner, whose Baked Potatoes with Caviar are in the book; appetizers; Erlinda’s Exquisite Short Ribs; with his “food family” in the Atlanta History Center garden dedicated to his mother, Caroline; setting the table; the book cover; servers at Hitz’s Beverly Hills home. Opposite page, from top left: Preparing Pâte Brisée; Perfect Roast Tenderloin of Beef; today, the smell of childhood favorites makes Hitz feel 3 years old again; Coconut pudding with Caramel Sauce; at the Carter White House with his stepfather, Robert Shaw, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; readying the kitchen for a Beverly Hills party; his mother (front, 7th from left) at the Sorbonne in 1956.
This page: Southern cuisine authority Edna Lewis, the so-called “Julia Child of Southern Cooking,” who was a guest chef several times at Alex Hitz’s restaurant, The Patio by the River, in the 1990s. Opposite page: Hitz’s Perfect Poached Pears in Red Wine (above) and Roulade of Pheasant Breast Stuffed with Spinach and Mushroom Duxelles (below).