East Hampton’s Ladies’ Village Improvement Society, or LVIS, has a long history of creating quality cookbooks, dating back to 1896 and continuing through two world wars and many decades of great change. Now, as the organization celebrates its 125th year, the members are about to release the crown jewel in their cookbook collection, and they’ve recruited vaunted New York Times food writer, author of 12 cookbooks and longtime East Hampton resident Florence Fabricant to help them do it.
Out for release by Rizzoli on April 7, The Ladies’ Village Improvement Society Cookbook: Eating and Entertaining in East Hampton gathers a carefully curated selection of 21 menus with more than 100 recipes from LVIS members, notable chefs and a few celebrity friends—all meeting Fabricant’s well-honed set of standards. The result is a hefty, 250-page tome filled with fabulous photos by Doug Young (as well as vintage images), history and lore from professional editor, ghostwriter and LVIS member Bess Rattray, and a foreword by Martha Stewart.
“It’s rooted very much in the region,” Fabricant says of the book and its recipes, which she tested personally, with a bit of help from some LVIS members. “It’s a representation of the food of the region and actually a celebration of it,” she adds, explaining that the cookbook’s menus cover a year’s worth of seasons and important events, such as a cozy home dinner, cocktail party, Labor Day barbecue, holiday buffet, pasta on the porch and many more.
Along with recipes by 26 LVIS members, the cookbook includes culinary creations from food world icons and famous East Hamptonites Ina Garten, Éric Ripert, Laurent Tourondel, Christie Brinkley, Katie Lee, Hilaria Baldwin, Laurie Anderson and Alex Guarnaschelli, among others. Additional contributions come from frequent Hamptons visitors Carla Hall and Jacques Pépin, and local purveyors such as the Seafood Shop, Wölffer Estate, Nick & Toni’s, The 1770 House and The Maidstone hotel.
Fabricant says she started with a long list of submissions from members and friends, and slowly whittled them down to the best while also avoiding repeats. “It’s a pretty tricky juggling job,” she says, recalling the difficult process of selecting recipes that stood up to her criteria. All recipes—aside from a few exceptions, like Garten’s—had to be original and unpublished, and none of the ingredients could include canned soups or sauces. “They were good recipes—very good recipes,” Fabricant points out. “These ladies really know how to bake.”
Though Fabricant is not an LVIS member, her relationship with the local civic group goes back a long time. She has a number of their cookbooks in her collection, she’s helped with the annual summer fair and has donated copies of her own cookbooks to sell at the LVIS bookstore and vintage shop (95 Main Street) in East Hampton Village. Now at about 300 members strong, the LVIS says they’re committed to preserving East Hampton’s natural beauty by maintaining its ponds, parks, greens and trees, while also improving education through scholarships.
Purchasing copies of the new cookbook helps further that mission, but it would be worthwhile even if it didn’t. As Stewart notes in her foreword, it’s an ode to the region and “an essential addition to everyone’s collection of culinary books.” And, Fabricant adds, “The book is kind of splendid and splashy with a lot of charm… I’m amazed at the weight of it.”
To support the release, Fabricant says they’re assembling a busy schedule of events, signings and presentations in the Hamptons and NYC, including an appearance at East Hampton Library’s annual Author’s Night, followed by dinner. Signed copies will be available at the Bargain Box and at BookHampton in East Hampton.
Learn more at lvis.org.