Life is pretty sweet for Jeni Britton Bauer, author of the delectable new cookbook Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts (Artisan books; $24, amazon.com). The James Beard Award–winning chef lives in Columbus, Ohio (where her wildly popular ice cream shop, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, is based), with her husband and two young children. Here, she dishes out her tips for the perfect summer party (hint: bring ice cream!), reveals her day-to-day beauty routine, and gives the scoop on favorite kitchen tools for the at-home chef.
What’s your go-to breakfast?
Griddled toast with homemade butter, a slice of tomato, and Maldon sea salt.
What’s your can’t-live-without kitchen tool?
A fork—for whipping, emulsifying, making a perfect omelet, chopping avocados or eggs, turning a steak, and, of course, for eating! Sometimes I use two at once like tongs.
What are your top 5 kitchen gear essentials?
1) Several 6-inch pans for reheating and for making small meals, 2) towels, 3) a knife set: 8-inch chef’s knife, a serrated knife and several paring knives, 4) a sieve, 5) a large Le Creuset dutch oven.
What’s always in your fridge?
Butter, mustard, pickles, and champagne.
All-time favorite dessert (if you had to choose)?
A hot fudge sundae with extra hot fudge, extra whipped cream, and smoked almonds.
What’s your beauty routine?
I start the day by washing and applying some ice to my face (wrapped in a washcloth) to reduce swelling and help me wake up. Then, Kiehl’s sunscreen under their regular moisturizer ($27; kiehls.com). For makeup I love Bobbi Brown stick foundation ($44; bobbibrowncosmetics.com), mascara, and lipstick. Sometimes I set my hair in pin curls, which looks funny in a good way the next day (I’m very comfortable looking “funny”). At night I wash my face and put lots of lotion on and get at least eight hours of sleep. I love and am proud of every wrinkle!
What’s your exercise routine?
I train with a trainer twice a week when I’m home. I like to keep moving. But I hate exercise. I exercise just so that I can get new tennis shoes (in bright exciting colors).
What do you like to bring to a dinner party as a guest? What do you love to receive?
Ice cream is what I bring. I love to receive peonies from a guest’s garden (tip: shake the ants out first).
What’s your entertaining style?
Casual all the way. Smiles. Good conversation. Big pans of food. Emphasis on my guests, not my cooking. Too much wine. Stay as late as you want.
What do you usually wear when hosting a dinner party?
A long black jersey dress and jean jacket. I always wear one of my Hedley & Bennet Aprons in case I spill something—they're so flattering!
Favorite music for a party?
Lewis, Hoagy Carmichael, and Sam Cooke are favorites right now.
What are your favorite cities for food?
Charleston, Chicago, and Nashville. All. The. Way.
What’s always in your bag?
Stewart & Claire lip balm in Bare ($6; stewartandclaire.com).
What’s your favorite scent?
Bobbi Brown Party ($72; bobbibrowncosmetics.com). It’s perfectly warm and feminine—it's celebratory—like a good party. It gives me confidence. I love rose and sandalwood, which are its main components—with violet to give it levity. I even wear it in the summer.
Favorite food trend that’s happening right now?
Vegetables as main courses!
Foodie icons or favorite chefs?
Maida Heatter, Jacques Pépin, and Julia Child.
Favorite cocktail to serve at a party?
A salty dog with fresh grapefruit juice and Watershed gin.
Favorite summertime family activity?
I’d be at the pool with my kids all day, every day in the summertime if I could, covered in zinc.
Best foodie vacation you’ve ever had?
A summer on the island of Ikaria, Greece, in 1998. But, I’ve had many: Sicily, Puerto Rico, Provence: Moustier France, Nice and the Riviera, Napa, and a million and one cities. It’s hard to choose.
Jeni Britton Bauer's scrumptious ice cream desserts were featured in our July 2014 issue, available for download and on newsstands now. Get the recipes here:
Reverse à la Mode Pie-kies
The Sublime Sandwich
The Ice-Cream-Cake Comeback