Lexie Roth is the definition of a triple threat - she acts, she makes music, and she cooks. This summer we were thrilled to catch up with Lexie on Martha’s Vineyard to see her in action with her business, Rooted Food.
Photo: Hannette Otten
Between her dinner parties and intimate concerts, Lexie Roth is a major source of creative inspiration. Like many Made In chefs, Lexie loves food, entertaining, and bringing people together over a homemade meal. This passion is the driving force behind her culinary background (she’s a graduate of New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute), and her business Rooted Food, an all-inclusive private chef company that specializes in dinner parties in NYC, LA, and Martha’s Vineyard.
We caught up with Lexie this summer to learn more about her dinner parties and her love of cooking, especially with Made In gear.
You have many talents (both in and out of the kitchen!) - how does cooking fit into your day to day life?
Being not only a chef, but an actor and a musician, life sometimes gets a little overwhelming balancing all three, but I try to keep the attitude that there are naturally certain times of the year (or week) where one or two takes over and I just willingly sit back and let it happen. During the summer months, cooking becomes the base fabric of my daily life as I am a private chef and co-own and run a company called Rooted Food on the busy small island of Martha’s Vineyard during peak season with my partner Zachary Graves-Miller. As an example of how my worlds constantly meld, this week my partner Zach and I cooked for the Governor of Massachusetts, the lovely Charlie Baker, cooked for a documentary screening and a few days before had two back to back musical performances: one hosted by MVY RADIO an NPR affiliate radio station on Martha’s Vineyard, and a barn concert with Elvis Perkins and Ben Taylor, with special performances from David Saw, his sister Sally Taylor and mother Carly Simon. When I am cooking for myself, I try to keep things very simple and easy.
When did you start cooking on the vineyard?
I started cooking on Martha’s Vineyard when I was 19 years old. It is a pretty funny story actually. I was hired to help serve a dinner party at a clients house where she was going to cook for 18 people. When I arrived to set the table, bar and cut some flowers, she entered the kitchen in a robe saying that her new Margarita Machine got the best of her and she hadn’t had a chance to prep for dinner at all. Under pressure of making this evening a success and having some cooking skills under my belt, I ended up cooking that night and everyone enjoyed the food- then she said, “how about you cook for me for the rest of the summer?” As word spreads quickly in this small community, more and more people requested my cooking and I realized that this was really something I was good at.
What is Rooted Food?
Rooted Food is a culinary business I run with my partner. We specialize in creating unique dining experiences featuring produce and food from the location where we are for the event. We did a wedding for 350 people in upstate New York where we sourced entirely from farms and artisans nearby, everything from the bread, chicken and goat cheese and cooked over open fire- it was really incredible. Whenever possible, we usually mix the food with featuring some sort of art or performance. Our most recent event was a 40 person dinner cooked entirely outside, made of entirely island ingredients except for the rice. Following dinner, as dark chocolate and berries were being passed around, I performed followed by two of my favorite musicians, Elvis Perkins and Ben Taylor.
Photo: Lexie Roth
What is your most memorable vineyard dining (or cooking) experience?
There are so many magical evenings to think of, but I’d have to say, that cooking and packing up a real small dinner for two of Allen Farm lamb chops // Ghost Island Greens salad with Lemon Dill Dressing // Pesto Wild Rice Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts and Shiso in our vintage white enamel tin and eating with chopsticks our little boat anchored in the middle of the Great Pond, a gorgeous gigantic pond that connects to the ocean in West Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard, during sunset is my most memorable yet this summer. Peaceful, quiet and delicious.
What’s your favorite thing to make on the island during the summer months?
Can I name a few? Striped Bass, Vineyard- Sole with Lemon, Butter, White Wine and Parsley, Tomatoes in any way shape and form, Huge boundless salads with island radishes and cucumbers sliced paper thin, Grilled Corn Salad with Basil, Strawberry Crisp (when those strawberries are in season and small and deep bright red).
Photo: Hannette Otten
What’s your go-to crowd pleaser?
Paella. I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t like paella. It has something for everyone, crispy chicken, chorizo, clams, mussels, (sometimes lobster, sometimes grilled fish depending on mood). It’s gluten-free, cooked in a gigantic impressive pan and it makes people happy.
Photo: Hannette Otten
What’s your favorite dining experience? Why did it make an impression on you?I traveled to Tuscany, Italy to work on an olive farm in Seggiano, a tiny village one hour south of Siena, picking olives and bottling olive oil on the property where the olive grove was. It was an extremely formidable experience for me. By chance, the winner of BBC Master Chef, Julie Friend, was visiting and as the family I was staying with knew my great interest in food and cooking, suggested that I cook lunches for the picking crew with her. Peri, the matriarch of the Seggiano company and olive grove, took me to all of the best Tuscan hill-towns for food shopping, to the butchers, cheese shops, beekeepers and wine vineyards for the best of the best. Italy was my favorite “culinary vacation” even though I was working hard picking olives for some of the time. There is a specific light that exists there, this golden calming light that accompanied by food, wine, and grappa really makes you settle into the Italian way of life. Also, an important thing to note is the extremely small size of refrigerators in Italy, it forces you to buy fresh food, to set out on foot or in your tiny car to bring back the many “finds” of the day. Favorite restaurant experience I’d have to say was at Casa Calvet in Barcelona. The restaurant is inside a building designed by Antoni Gaudi for a textile manufacturer which served as both a commercial property and a residence built between 1898 and 1900. The tasting menu and ambiance were incredible, servers who seemed to have been there since 1900, silver and dishware kept in homey ancient display cases, this lunch trickled out over approximately 4 hours. Four hours of having the honor to step back in time.
What meal/food that brings you back to childhood?
My mom’s recipe of thin chicken tenders battered in egg and then rolled in breadcrumbs, parmesan, Italian spices and herbs then fried in a pan served with spaghetti aglio e olio.
What was your first kitchen tool splurge?
A black commercial size Kitchen Aid mixer.
What’s your best piece of advice for a novice chef or baker?
Chefs! Salt is your best friend! It makes flavor come to life! But if you over-salt, there’s no going back. Salt with your fingers, don’t shake a salt shaker where the top can come flying off and ruin your dish. Taste taste taste, with a separate tasting spoon of course… and don’t be afraid to try new things and be adventurous with flavor combinations. It’s okay to mess up, especially when you’re trying to learn. For bakers, baking is a science, temperature and proper measurements are imperative. Once you’ve mastered something, then you can get creative with flavor. Work on classic recipes over and over again, and start to recognize the feeling of how the dough feels between your fingers, “is this too wet?” “Too sticky?” “Are these “pea size” balls of butter in my mix the way they should be?” Certain things you really have to learn by making mistakes, and by doing it right. Also, use the light in your oven to look inside, don’t open her up obsessively because then the oven temperature won’t have a chance to stay where you want it to be.
What are three things every home chef needs in their arsenal?
Really there are four. Food processor, Vitamix, Kitchen Aid Mixer and great set of reliable, even heating cookware like Made-In.
Photo: Lexie Roth
Why do you like feeding people/having dinner parties?
I think it’s mostly about the immediate satisfaction of making people happy-because when you feed people, you make people smile. I also love gathering people together who wouldn’t normally be at the same dinner table. Food is a way to unite human beings; you never know who you will meet or have a connection with. Dinner parties are a precious thing. It offers time to sit, eat, drink, and talk for a few magical hours where all other responsibilities melt away. More than ever, in this hectic erratic technology and stressed filled world, the importance of sitting down for a meal is often overlooked as a vital time to re-connect and be present with one another.
Photo: Lexie Roth
What’s your favorite piece of Made In’s cookware line?
My favorite piece of Made In’s cookware line is the 4 Quart Saute Pan with lid.
What do you like about Made In?
Made In Cookware is like All-Clad but better. Not only does it look beautiful, it has way more of an evenly spread heat than anything I’ve cooked with before. The handle is perfectly designed for your hand and they stack perfectly all together as a set. Having a tiny house or apartment you really have to think about these things, and thankfully you guys already did all of that work.
Thanks, Lexie! We learned so much...and realized how much we need to get back to the Vineyard asap!
Lexie Roth is an actress, (Chappaquiddick) musician and trained chef raised in Northern Westchester, New York. She is the daughter of Arlen Roth (born October 30, 1952 in New York, USA), an American guitarist, recording artist, performer, tutor, and author. He has performed and recorded with artists such as Bob Dylan, Danny Gatton, John Entwistle, John Prine, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, Ry Cooder, David Lindley, Sonny Landreth, Levon Helm, Bill Kirchen, Duane Eddy, Steve Morse, Albert Lee and Phoebe Snow.
Her song "Call You My Hon" was featured in the award-winning feature film "Maria My Love" produced and directed by Jasmine McGlade Chazelle starring Karen Black. Lexie sings "Vaya Con Dios" on the Les Paul Tribute Album "Thank You Les" alongside of Keith Richards, Jose Feliciano, Steve Miller, Slash, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Eddie Brigati Jr. (The Young Rascals) and many other greats who played with Les Paul through the years. Lexie appears on “Nightlife”, “Crying Time” and “Just One Look” with Levon Helm and Amy Helm off the record “Toolin’ Around Woodstock”. Roth sings “Tennessee Waltz” on the upcoming Arlen Roth record “Telemasters” produced by Tommy Hambridge featuring Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Brent Mason, Steve Cropper, Albert Lee, Johnny Hiland, Jack Pearson and many more.
Roth taught herself to cook in her family’s studio on Martha’s Vineyard. A graduate of New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute, Lexie specializes in whole foods dynamics, clinical nutrition and is a firm believer in that food should be carefully sourced and balanced.