Paris-Style Southern Cooking

Cover of My Beverly Hills KitchenWith his line of gourmet frozen foods flourishing, Alex Hitz has just come out with a new cookbook, "My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist" (Knopf), in which he offers more than 175 all-time favorite Southern dishes — from Cold Pea Soup with Mint to Salted Caramel Cake.

After receiving his Washington and Lee degree in English in 1991, Alex earned degrees from Peter Kump's Cooking School in New York City as well as Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. He was a partner in a restaurant in his native Atlanta for a time, but, as noted in his bio on "The Beverly Hills Kitchen", he really began cooking in 1999, when he moved to Los Angeles, where his dinner parties became legend.

Then, about three years ago, he launched the Beverly Hills Kitchen line of foods. He marketed them on the QVC television network before moving to the Home Shopping Network, where his show became No. 1 in the network's food-and-kitchen category.

The recipes in his new cookbook blend "the home cooking of his mother’s Atlanta kitchen with lessons he learned from some of the world’s great chefs and hosts to come up with classic, satisfying comfort food."

In a feature on Alex and the new book in the Wall Street Journal, he talks about everything from Julia Child's Strawberry Cobbler ("If you undercook it, it's fantastic. If you overcook it, it's delicious") to whether a dinner party should be seated or a buffet ("The occasion dictates, as does the number of people").

His underlying philosophy of food? "For me, food is art, history, economics, sociology, psychology and everything else 'ology' rolled into one. It's a culmination of all the great disciplines of the world."

And what is his favorite food? He divulged that answer in a blog entry on Vanity Fair's website this week: "Chicken potpie, hands down. It’s magic!"

Who could disagree with that?

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