Town Talk Features

Dorothy About Town: 11.15.17

Every year the Jewish Book Festival brings to town a lineup of remarkable authors. For the modest sum of $18, you can hear—and meet—the likes of Alice Hoffman (The Marriage of Opposites) and Sidney Blumenthal (The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln). For $99, you can go to hear all of them (about 40 total), including the two keynote speakers: Zac Posen and Sen. Barbara Boxer.

I’m sure Sen. Boxer was great Nov. 5, but I was mostly intrigued by Posen, a top fashion designer with St. Louis ties (his dad Stephen went to University City High School and Washington University School of Fine Arts). He recently authored a cookbook, Cooking with Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined, and says his matzo balls are “light and fluffy—these are no sinkers.” The 36-year-old designer to the stars (and to 16 clothing lines, including Brooks Brothers of which he is creative director) was charming and engaging during his presentation in front of a local crowd who clearly also were curious about his career tangent.

Posen says he “needs cooking as a fashion detox.” Apparently he loves to cook (and bake), and he’s got some kitchen cred to prove it. The Project Runway judge has cooked at the James Beard House in New York, and his recipes have appeared on and in Food & Wine. Posen’s cookbook is organized by fashion seasons—Spring & Summer, Resort, Fall & Winter, Holiday—which makes sense, since that’s how his entire life is organized.

As you would expect from an artist, the color images in Posen’s book are visually gorgeous, which he chalks up to “driving everyone crazy by being a perfectionist,” and to examining hundreds of portfolios before finding the right photographer. He explains that just about every tablecloth, platter and serving piece pictured in the book was rummaged from his parents’ basement. Among his favorite recipes, he lists linguine vongole, soups (including borscht) and homemade ice creams.

Posen is a New Yorker, born and bred in SoHo, and says he was raised to value creativity above all else. He admits it took him some time to also develop the business side of running a fashion empire: “I’ve grown to be someone who makes decisions and owns them.”

With strong ties to our city, Posen remembers the highlights of his visits here as a youth, including Ozzie Smith’s back flips, toasted ravioli and “the best barbecue ever.” In fact, he credits (or blames) his dad’s Missouri roots for the clunky smoker the older Posen built and uses at the family’s Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, estate. Does that mean St. Louis can take a little credit for inspiring the cookbook?