Members of the Ladies’ Village Improvement Society of East Hampton were surveyed by the president of the organization at the time, Anne Thomas, as to what projects the organization should embark on to celebrate the upcoming 125th anniversary. The clear and runaway winner was: a new cookbook.
Ruth Appelhof, a member, who at the time was the director of Guild Hall, knew the legendary food writer and East Hampton resident Florence Fabricant, and suggested her as a perfect partner for the project. And so, as they say, the match was made.
Together over the next three years, the LVIS and a committee of volunteers worked with Fabricant to create and produce “The Ladies’ Village Improvement Society Cookbook: Eating and Entertaining in East Hampton.”
The book, published by Rizzoli, will be released on April 7 and will be widely available at bookstores, online, and, of course, at the LVIS Shops on Main Street.
This isn’t the first cookbook the LVIS has produced. There have been several predecessors, including one published in 1896. They have been simple, text-only, mostly black-and-white booklets; plain and straightforward paperbacks that are nothing like this splendid and visually stunning new version.
This edition is a lavish 256-page book, illustrated with more than 200 photos by Doug Young. It features more than 100 recipes for food and drink, grouped into 20 menus, with directions on how to splendify everything from everyday meals to poolside lunches. In addition, there are strawberry-and tomato-themed celebrations to feature items from the East End’s famed local produce.
Included are recipes from current LVIS members, as well as from high-profile East Hampton residents Ina Garten, Eric Ripert, Martha Stewart, Laurent Tourondel, Christie Brinkley, Katie Lee, Hilaria Baldwin, Laurie Anderson, and Alex Guarnaschelli, to name a few, and from food authorities and frequent visitors such as Carla Hall and Jacques Pépin.
Local culinary hotspots contributing recipes include the Seafood Shop, Wölffer Estates, Nick & Toni’s, the 1770 House, and the Maidstone hotel. Young’s photography shines a light on the freshness and originality of the food, and historical photographs and anecdotes culled from the LVIS archives and The East Hampton Star, peppered throughout the cookbook, highlight the legacy and importance of food in this quintessential American seaside town.
Fabricant is an acclaimed food and wine reporter for The New York Times. She is also the best-selling author of 13 cookbooks, including Rizzoli’s “Park Avenue Potluck,” “City Harvest,” “Wine with Food,” and “The New York Restaurant Cookbook.”
According to Colleen Rando, who has written a book about the history of the organization that is available in its shop, LVIS forged a partnership with village government that continues today. It thrives almost 125 years later, adapting to changing times while remaining true to its original mission: the maintenance and preservation of historical landmarks, ponds, parks, greens, and trees, and for the charitable and educational improvement and advancement of the general welfare of East Hampton.
Its membership consists of approximately 350 local women, all of them volunteers, who in the last 10 years have raised and spent $5 million maintaining the trees, the village greens, the Nature Trail, and funding scholarships for many local students, as well as women going back to school to earn a college degree.
In the foreword by Martha Stewart, the author of more than 80 books, she refers to the LVIS as “the guardian of the character and beauty of East Hampton.” Thanking the contributors, Stewart, known as “The Domestic Goddess” and “the queen of all things lifestyle,” calls this book “an essential addition to everyone’s collection of culinary books.”