Self-proclaimed comfort food lover Katie Lee talks food, food and more food. Lee is a co-host of Food Network’s “The Kitchen” and has two cookbooks: “The Comfort Table” (2008) and “The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions” (2009). She will be one of the many celebrity chefs attending the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in late February.
If you were on Death Row, what’s your last meal?
Thanksgiving dinner. Then I would have a pepperoni pizza for dessert. And some nachos too. And ice cream. And movie theater popcorn.
Tell us about your biggest kitchen disaster?
My grandma makes a dish that she calls baked steak and gravy. It is total comfort food to me. She has walked me through the recipe, step by step, multiple times, but whenever I try to make it, it tastes like greasy shoe leather.
What do you consider the hottest food trends of 2017?
Vegetables are my favorite trend. It started a few years ago with brussels sprouts and then kale everything, and now so many veggies are having a renaissance. Cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower rice, cauliflower nachos…I love it all.
The hottest restaurant trend of 2017?
I don’t go out much, and when I do, it’s the same places. I’m not really hip enough to know the hot restaurant trends. I’m old school.
What’s the best meal you ever ate? The worst?
The best meals I have ever eaten (aside from those family has prepared) have been at Lo Scoglio in Nerano, Italy. The food is so fresh and delicious; I dream about it. I try not to remember the bad meals, but the other night I had some pretty terrible Chinese take out in the Hamptons.
Where do you like to eat when you come to Miami?
There are so many restaurants that I love in Miami. Mandolin, Cecconi’s, Michael’s Genuine, Macaluso, Puerto Sagua, and Joe’s are always on “must-go” list.
What do you think about Miami’s food scene?
Miami has an incredibly vibrant food scene. There is always something new and there are people putting their own spin on classic dishes. Last year, I filmed my Cooking Channel show Beach Bites here and I got to try a few places I’d never been before, like Tinta y Cafe and Azucar for ice cream. It was classic food that was updated and modern.
What’s one cookbook you’d never throw out?
Barefoot Contessa cookbooks are the best. Ina Garten’s recipes always work.
What’s comfort food to you?
Comfort food is food that makes you feel good. It doesn’t necessarily have to be big, heavy food. I’m comforted by a big plate of fried chicken and I’m just as comforted by a bowl of my mom’s vegetable soup.
How do you stay in shape when your life revolves around food?
It is something I constantly work on and it is not easy. I do Tracy Anderson Method about 6 days a week. If I want to eat the foods I crave, and fit into my skinny jeans, I have to pay the price. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
There is a frozen yogurt shop in Sag Harbor, NY called Buddha Berry and it’s my happy place. I get a big container of chocolate and peanut butter swirl, cover it in hot fudge, and a scoop of smashed Reese’s cups.
What’s your favorite thing about the South Beach Wine and Food Festival?
The festival is like a reunion every year. Many of us are friends and see each other throughout the year, but with everyone’s hectic schedules, it’s rare for everyone to be in one place at the same time. I also enjoy the opportunity to connect with Food Network fans in person. We are lucky to have really nice, loyal fans.