Let me tell you about the day I spent with Alex Hitz this week. He was in Texas for a charity event he had been asked to do. Because it was for a food charity that he felt strongly about, he was all in. We left his hotel in the morning and headed to Fort Worth for a day to remember.The event was called Blessings in a Back Pack , with the Tarrant Area Food Bank who provides school kids who need food assistance with food filled backpacks on Friday to take home. From what we heard, the percentage of school kids who qualify for this program is staggering.
First stop when we arrived at the event, was to the kitchen to check on the lunch to be served to the crowd of almost 300. The menu consisted of selections from his book My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Cream of Mushroom Soup, Ham and Onion Tart, Fresh Baby Spinach with Red Wine Vinaigrette, and Peggy’s Apricot Mousse with Bourbon Whipped Cream and a Pecan Shortbread Cookie. After a taste test and a few adjustments, he was back to tend to his admiring crowd.
Alex Hitz possesses a timeless aura that radiates nowness. He has a laid-back, sophisticated southern composure and about seven lifetimes of interesting careers and anecdotes (with unreal photographs) that charmed the room for the entirety of his talk. He shared stories about people like Betsy Bloomingdale, Leonard Bernstein, Rosalynn and Jimmy Cater, Julia Child, Nan Kempner…
with amusingly timed images to boot. Note the devilish grin.
Apricot Mousse, Pecan Shortbread, Bourbon Whipped Cream- all from My Beverly Hills Kitchen.
Then he signed over 400 books…and yes, they ran out and had to start an order list. That’s a sure sign of a good speaker.
Mission accomplished for the charity. So then, on the way back to Dallas, we made a quick stop by the home where a special dinner in Alex’s honor had been thrown the evening before…dinner for 80.
It was easy to fathom how the Hyder’s house could so easily accommodate eighty dinner guests for a four course meal (all Alex Hitz recipes). This house, and its views of Fort Worth would take your breath away.
Then, on to another quick stop: the Van Cliburn house? OMG…
The house, the grounds, the views- wow. Just wow.
This soulful, red music room is in a separate structure behind the house. Three pianos remain, and walls full of historical photos of the legendary pianist’s illustrious career. This home was previously the home of Kay and Velma Kimbell, founders of the Kimbell Museum.
We made yet another stop to one last magnificent home before heading back to Dallas to return Alex to The Mansion on Turtle Creek. On the ride back I asked his permission to share one of my favorite parts of his talk… permission granted! Thank you, Alex, and hurry back to TX.
ALEX’S 5 WAYS TO ENTERTAIN WELL:
1) Never skimp on anything. Whether you serve frozen pizza, fried chicken, or caviar, make sure it’s the best of whatever it is.
2) When entertaining, make a schedule and stick to it. Serve dinner on time, and don’t wait on anybody. Remember, if people are late, that’s their problem, not yours.
3) When you entertain, make an effort, a huge effort even. Sweat the small stuff. Take that extra step, and get all the details JUST right, BUT: do it BEFORE those guests arrive.
4) Don’t be pretentious. Stay authentic and keep it simple, and of excellent quality.
5) If all else fails, call up a great local restaurant and book a table.