It’s been a whirlwind few years for cookbook author Katie Lee Biegel. In addition to continuing her role as co-host of The Kitchen on the Food Network, she married TV producer Ryan Biegel in an intimate wedding ceremony on the Amalfi coast in 2018. Soon after, she sold her Hamptons home, moved into a rental and embarked on a major renovation of her New York City apartment. Then, this past September, after struggling with infertility, she and her husband became first time parents to their daughter, Iris.
And while Lee Biegel loved throwing glamorous dinner parties, hosting food shows and experimenting with complicated recipes, as her life (and the world!) changed, she found herself yearning for cozy nights at home whipping up her favorite, time-honored dishes—the ones she turned to again and again. That’s where her new cookbook, It’s Not Complicated: Simple Recipes for Everyday, comes in. Brimming with mouthwatering photographs and user-friendly recipes (trust us, if we can make them you can too!) it will quickly become your go-to for creating easy yet elegant meals.
From her Hamptons home, Lee Biegel talks to us about finding love, creating her dream kitchen, her new baby girl, and of course, her lifelong love of food. Let’s get cooking!
I’ve always been a big fan of Nancy Meyer’s movies like It’s Complicated, The Holiday and Something’s Gotta Give. It’s the way her movies—and the kitchens in them—make you feel, and the sense of comfort you get while watching them. I didn’t think that I ever wanted to do another cookbook, but I got a little itch and started thinking of ideas. I thought, “It’s NOT complicated” to cook really good, comforting food, and the book quickly came together.
FINDING ‘THE ONE’
Ryan and I met on my show Beach Bites where he was a producer. I walked into our first meeting and saw him and thought, “Oh, this is going to be trouble.” I felt like myself with Ryan, was completely comfortable and at the same time I had butterflies! It’s the combo platter of a great relationship. He’s really into food and that’s one of the reasons we bonded so early on. During quarantine we’ve been together 24/7 and still haven’t run out of things to talk about. It has been a gift to have all this uninterrupted time at home with just the three of us.
OPENING UP ABOUT INFERTILITY
I opened up about my infertility struggle because I was having a really hard time not talking about it. I felt like I had to put on a happy face when inside I was really sad. I was getting so many questions asking when I was going to have a baby and it always made me feel so bad. I was nervous to post about it on Instagram but I am so glad I did. So many people reached out to me in support and still contact me to this day about it. They’ll say, “I’m starting my first round of IVF and am so nervous,” or “I’ve been through three rounds and I’m still not pregnant.” So many women feel like they have to hide their struggle and we shouldn’t feel that way.
ADVICE TO WOMEN ABOUT IVF
I always tell women to not get obsessed with the numbers. You go to your first appointment and they say you have a bunch of follicles and you assume you’ll get an egg out of each of those and you’ll then have an embryo and it’s going to be great. But every time you go, the numbers go down and you get depressed and anxious over it. But all you need is one. Just one. And now after having my baby I think, “Thank God she was the one.” It was sad that it didn’t work out the other times, but Iris was the one that was meant to be and the one I was waiting for.
IN THE KITCHEN WITH IRIS
When I was growing up, my grandma always had me in the kitchen and the first thing I ever made with her were biscuits. That is what I want to do with Iris when she gets old enough. I want to pull a stool over and have her climb up and help me at the kitchen counter. Even now, when I’m in the kitchen, I put her [in her] little play chair and she sits and watches me cook. I talk to her as I’m doing everything and it’s like a pretend cooking show for her!
FILMING A TV SHOW FROM HOME
We have filmed over 40 episodes [of The Kitchen] from home! Ryan sets up all the lights and films me and we work with our producers virtually. It was definitely easier before I had a baby, but it gave us a connection and distraction during quarantine. Because of Covid, I didn’t get to be with family and friends during my pregnancy, so the show was a way to connect and share with them.
HER NEW DREAM KITCHEN
I had just finished a major apartment renovation (my good friend Nate Berkus helped me out with it) and had finally moved back in right before Covid hit. Our apartment is in the West Village and is uncomplicated in terms of décor. The kitchen is my dream kitchen—it’s very open with a lot of storage, great marble countertops, a big sink and a nice, large range. The kitchen opens into the living room, which is what I’ve always wanted so I can be cooking and still be with everyone hanging out.
MUST-HAVE PANTRY AND FRIDGE ITEMS
Pasta, canned tomatoes, canned fish (I always have good canned tuna, salmon, clams and anchovies). In my fridge I always have lemons, a variety of cheeses, a bunch of produce—and my tip for that is to clean, prep and store it so you can use it easily.
Photography by Lucy Schaeffer