While working with a client in East Hampton a few weeks back, I had the honor of being able to visit the summer home of Artist and Chef Hilary Jane Leff. Leff has worked in worked in the areas of ceramics, fine metals and photography but spent many years working as a chef. Her spectacular garden that once was filled with veggies and fruit for her cuisine as now been transformed into a botanical garden filled with beautiful plants she is cultivating to create textiles, including indigo, hibiscus, hollyhocks and marigolds, which she uses to dye silks and other natural fabrics.
Check out Hilary's answers to our Creative's Questionnaire:
1. IF YOU WERE A SEASON, WHAT SEASON WOULD YOU BE? HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR HOME AND PERSONAL STYLE?
I am spring, it happens to be when I was born and when my children were born, but for me it's the season of beginnings- months of warm weather to look forward to, months at the beach, on the farms. Our house in East Hampton is our center, the way it smells, the light, it is all about bringing the outdoors in. My style is simple and neutral, the better to let flowers take center stage and let bowls of fruit make a statement.
2. WHEN CREATING YOUR SPACE, WHAT WAS A NECESSITY FOR YOU?
A screened in porch was the most important part of the house and we use it every warm day. When we built the house I told the contractor to make it 15 fee wide and 30 feet long. He said that was huge and unnecessary, but I'd measured my outdoor table and side board, and knew that was what we needed. We start the day there and end it there.
3. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MATERIAL?- (WOOD, GOLD, STONE..) HOW DO YOU USE IT IN YOUR HOME?
I love wood, we sourced old chestnut for the floors and old oak beams for the ceiling. I love to watch the color of the shingles on the outside of the house change from year to year, I couldn't wait for them to lose that "new" look. Now that they're turning gray I'm very happy.
4. WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY DOING IN YOUR SPACE? PAINT US A PICTURE.
I love throwing dinner parties. I start the day at Quail Hill Farm picking vegetables and digging potatoes to prepare later. Then I pick up my fish from Dock to Dish, a fish CSA, at Amber Waves farm, where I collect a bouquet of flowers, more vegetables and a loaf of Carissa's bread made with local wheat. In the early afternoon, my husband puts on some good music and I get to work. My kitchen is a dream to cook in, we decided not to put in any upper cabinets so the light shines in from every direction. I keep the meal simple, usually grilling the vegetables and making a simple green sauce or romesco to serve with them. Fish is also grilled. I like to serve a wheatberry salad with cherry tomatoes this time of year, the tomatoes are so delicious, particularly the Sun Golds. I usually crumble some cheese in there. My favorite part of the meal, though is dessert. I worked as a pastry chef in the city for awhile and I love sweets. This time of year I do a lot of crumbles and crisps with peaches and berries. But last week I attempted salted caramel, ice cream sandwiches, with devil foods cake. They tasted awesome, but were a little messy, I will have to try again. My husband is in charge of wine, I like buttery white burgundy, he likes pinots, so we usually have both. Guests come at about 7, hors d'oeuvres are served down at the bocce court then dinner on the porch.
5. DO YOU HAVE A SECRET TALENT?
I twirl a mean baton.