Katie Lee Biegel is nothing if not casual and relatable.
On a recent Zoom call the 40-year-old Food Network star is quick to note, in her soft Southern drawl, that her house is a mess, that parenting 19-month-old daughter Iris is a humbling experience and that she’s wearing a pair of maternity sweatpants she just “can’t give up.”
And yet, the kitchen of her Hamptons home — visible in the background — appears gleaming, Biegel’s dark tresses shine and her athleisure look is far more chic than schlumpy.
Such is Biegel’s easy, unpretentious charm, which has netted her nearly 1 million Instagram followers, four cookbooks and a thriving television career.
“I’m really lucky when it comes to career and motherhood balance because my job is not every day,” says Biegel, who shoots her Food Network show “The Kitchen” in large blocks several times a year. “And I do my recipe development and recipe testing usually during nap time.”
Born and raised in West Virginia, Biegel grew up surrounded by family and food. Her late maternal grandmother was a force in the kitchen, and Biegel came of age cooking at her feet. She studied journalism and food science at Miami University in Ohio, graduating in 2003. That same year, she was visiting New York City for the weekend and met Billy Joel at the rooftop bar at the Peninsula Hotel. The two wed in 2004 and amicably split five years later.
Perhaps inspired by the experience, her best-selling 2011 novel “Groundswell” tells the story of a young New York screenwriter recovering from divorce, who finds healing (and new romance) during a surf trip to Mexico.
The Hallmark Channel just announced it’s adapting that novel as a movie, with Biegel signed on to executive produce and make an on-screen cameo. It’s set to premiere on the network later this year. (No word yet on who will play the heroine’s hunky surfer love interest.)
As for Biegel’s own Hollywood ending? In 2015, she met and started dating Ryan Biegel, a producer on her show, “Beach Bites With Katie Lee,” currently airing on the Cooking Channel.
They married in 2018 on Italy’s Amalfi coast, celebrating at one of their favorite places — Lo Scoglio, the restaurant famous for its zucchini pasta.
“He’s a great cook. He’s really into food, too. So that’s how we bonded,” Biegel says. “I really enjoy having someone as into food as I am. It’s such a huge part of my life … Usually when we say, ‘What do you want to do this weekend?’ it’s not necessarily an activity. It’s more, ‘What do you want to eat?’ ”
On a recent weekend, the answer was trying the new location of the Lobster Roll (affectionally known as “Lunch”) in Southampton, which she mused would be kid-friendly.
“Iris loves going out. She loves looking at everybody and watching people,” reports the proud mom. “And she eats better in a restaurant, I think because she’s excited.”
Even though Biegel is a professional, feeding a fussy tot has been challenging.
“She basically has three food groups: carbs, fruit and marinara,” she jokes, readily admitting that the marinara in question typically comes in a jar with a Rao’s label on it.
While Biegel’s approach to food and entertaining has always been unfussy, motherhood has forced her to simplify things even further.
“I’ve been really into sheet-pan suppers,” she says. A recent favorite has been sheet-pan fajitas, where the protein, peppers and onions all cook together on a single pan in the oven. “I like things that are easy and fast right now. And not a lot of ingredients and certainly not a lot of clean-up.”
Finding time for herself has been a challenge, but she recognizes the need to do so.
“Up until a few weeks ago, I felt like brushing my teeth was self-care,” she says. “When I see people talking about, ‘Oh I have a bath ritual for my self-care,’ I laugh.”
She’s recently found more time to exercise, even if it’s for shorter bursts than she’s used to.
“Before I had a baby, I would exercise an hour and a half a day,” she says. “But now just setting aside 25 to 30 minutes has made me a more sane person. It’s helping me a lot.” Her current favorites include online yoga classes on the Obé Fitness app and the SoulCycle At-Home Bike.
Like her food, Biegel’s personal style is all about easy elegance. Her taste in those beloved sweats runs the gamut from Target to more upscale brands such as Aviator Nation and Monrow. But summer is far and away her favorite fashion season.
“You can get by with wearing comfortable clothes that still look nice,” she enthuses. “You can just put on a little sundress or something, and it looks good.”
Her favorite labels include Ulla Johnson, Xirena, and Stella McCartney — but only if she’s feeling fancy. As for our Alexa cover shoot, the white Amir Taghi look was her favorite. “I like simple and classic looks, and I loved that chunky gold Chanel bracelet.”
And when it comes to styling Iris, the chef keeps it simple. “She dresses like me. She’s in sweats every day,” Biegel says with a giggle.
She takes a similarly understated approach with her own jewelry. Most days, you’ll find her in a classic pair of diamond earrings from London Jewelers. “I’ve known the London Jewelers family forever, almost 20 years now,” she says of the bijoux boutique, which has locations across Long Island and in Manhattan and New Jersey. “I always enjoy going in there to talk — and they also love food.”
After her engagement, she nabbed a simple white-gold wedding band for Ryan there. Her own wedding band was a vintage white-gold piece that complemented her engagement ring, a 1920s sparkler with a cushion-cut diamond.
“I really love vintage jewelry,” says Biegel, who borrowed a pair of Victorian earrings for her wedding day.
The passion for baubles extends to her TV watching. She just finished “The Gilded Age” on HBO and gushes about the accessorizing on the series. “It was one of my favorite things about the show: They had great jewelry.”
But while the Biegel brand celebrates a certain sort of relaxed good life in the Hamptons, Biegel herself is attuned to the struggles of others. She’s long been involved with Food Bank for New York City and serves on its board. In 2016, after learning that many women visit food banks for personal care products, she launched the Woman to Woman project within the organization. It works to supply hygiene essentials to girls and women in need.
“A lot of young women miss school because they don’t have access to period products,” she says. “It’s terrible to think about somebody not having access to that.”
Looking ahead, Biegel is focused on her Hallmark debut as well as a new children’s book. But she says she has no plans to write any sort of kiddie cookbook.
“I don’t think that anybody can tell each other what their kids are gonna like,” she says. “They’re so fickle.”
You can, however, count on her for easy summer entertaining. She can’t wait for the juicy tomatoes, cobbler made from August peaches and delicious family-style meals — ribs, flank steak, a whole side of salmon — that the season will bring.
“I live for summer,” she says. “I’m still like a kid who’s on the school calendar waiting for Memorial Day.”
Editor: Serena French; Stylist: Anahita Moussavian; Photo Editor: Jessica Hober; Fashion Assistants: Sean Rodriguez, Madeleine Shepherd; Hair: Naoko Suzuki for Rossano Ferretti Hairspa using Rossano Ferretti Parma; Makeup: Julie Tussey for Matono Salon using Revlon; All jewelry available at London Jewelers, 2046 Northern Blvd., Manhasset, LI