Alex Hitz (born February 10, 1969) is an American celebrity chef, cookbook author, socialite and philanthropist, and founder of the luxury gourmet food product line The Beverly Hills Kitchen. He is also known for his work as a Broadway and movie producer, real estate developer, and clothing designer.
Life and Early Cooking Career
Hitz was born in Atlanta, Georgia on February 10, 1969 to Caroline Bryans Sauls and Alex Hitz. His mother’s family was one of the original investors in the Coca-Cola Company, and Mrs. Hitz was a founding trustee of the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center (now called the Woodruff Arts Center) and lifetime trustee of the Atlanta Historical Society (now called the Atlanta History Center). His father’s family is descended from Florian Hitz, the first Swiss ambassador to the United States, and the elder Hitz was a civic leader and devoted visionary at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Both his parents were formally educated in Europe, and Hitz spent considerable time as a youth at the family home in France. His parents divorced when Hitz was three years old, and his mother remarried Robert Shaw, a Grammy Award-winning symphonic and choral conductor.
Hitz grew up on Southern cooking and enjoyed spending time with the family’s cook, Dorothy Williams, who he credits with teaching him much about cooking. But it was his parents’ influence that instilled in him a love of all things French, especially French food. In 1987, after graduating from boarding school, Hitz took a summer job at the restaurant The Patio by The River in Atlanta, Georgia (owned by Mary Boyle Hataway and Harry Hataway). There Hitz mastered many aspects of the restaurant business, including the sauté and grill stations, the pantry, garnish, table service, and the front. He continued working at The Patio by The River every summer for the next four years while he attended college.
Hitz obtained his B.A. degree in English from Washington and Lee University in 1991. During his schooling he also attended undergraduate programs at the University of London, where he studied English and Theatre, and at L’Université de Paris-La Sorbonne, where he studied French Culture and Civilization. After graduation, he learned that Harry Hataway wanted to sell his portion of ownership in The Patio by the River, so Hitz purchased it in 1991 and became co-owner of the restaurant with Mary Boyle Hataway.
While owning and working at The Patio by The River, Hitz completed advanced programs at Peter Kump’s Cooking School (now the Institute of Culinary Education) in New York City, as well as Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Under Hitz’s ownership, the restaurant welcomed many guest chefs, including Edna Lewis, Julia Child, and Robert Mondavi. In 1994 Hitz and Hataway sold The Patio by The River, and it later re-opened under new owners as Canoe.
After selling the restaurant and inspired by his step-father’s 1991 Kennedy Center Honor, Hitz moved to New York City and co-produced several Broadway shows, including Triumph of Love (1997) and the revival of The Sound of Music (1998), as well as the revival of On the Town in Central Park with the New York Public Theater.
Hitz then went from Broadway production to television movie production, developing screenplays for Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill, The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder, and Henry James’ The Aspern Papers. Unfortunately, none of the movies ever made it to screen.
Hitz soon got involved in residential real estate developing in the New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles areas. He also designed bespoke clothing for several clients, and has been nominated for inclusion on the International Best-Dressed List twelve times.
Hitz serves as one of the three trustees of The Dennis Hopper Trust.
Food Product Line
In 2008, while living in Los Angeles, Hitz decided to go back to his first love: food. Knowing he did not want to own another restaurant, Hitz began developing The Beverly Hills Kitchen, a line of luxury gourmet food products. He premiered his first food product, Beef Bourguignon, on the television shopping network QVC on October 1, 2009.
In January 2011 Hitz moved his product line to the Home Shopping Network (HSN) television station and became the only food brand with its own dedicated timeslot. In 2012 his HSN show was ranked #1 (measured in dollars per minute) in the Kitchen and Food category.
Hitz is the author of the cookbook My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist (Knopf, October 2012), which features 175 of his original recipes.
Hitz blends the home cooking of his mother’s Atlanta kitchen with lessons he learned in France to create haute-cuisine restaurant quality recipes that are accessible for the home cook. Hitz draws inspiration from the ideas behind Southern plantation food and regional Junior League cookbooks to create updated Southern dishes. He considers two cuisines—the Low Country and the Creole—to be the vague antecedents for his version of Southern food.
- Hitz, Alex (2012). My Beverly Hills Kitchen. New York: Knopf, p. 73 & 297.