Owner of Hachland Hill, Chef and Author of 17 Cookbooks
Featured Chef in the 2014 Vanilla Vine, Issue #3
Perhaps one of our greatest joys at Nielsen-Massey is getting to know people that have influenced the culinary industry. Recently, we had the great privilege of talking to Phila Hach, a true culinary legend.
Into her late eighties, this Tennessean still has the same enthusiasm for classic Southern cooking, and for life, that has driven her impressive career all these years. Aside from transforming airline menus while working as a flight attendant in the 1940s, writing 14 cookbooks and owning her own hospitality businesses, Phila has also been an inspiration to women in the industry. In 1950, Phila was the first woman in the South to be featured on television, having a half hour cooking show on a local channel. She also owned her own bed and breakfast during a time that many women did not own businesses. Although Phila has had great success in her career, even serving the likes of Oprah Winfrey and winning many prestigious awards, she is still as down-to-earth as ever. Phila attributes her success to keeping her “doors open” to people.
“I chose a career in the culinary field because at three years old I helped my mother can peaches, and I had my own little stove and I loved everything about what food does for us. I wrote the first menu for the airline industry. I have been an open door my whole life. I have not been responsible for what has come to me, the people I let into my life are responsive for that.”
Today, you can find Phila still preparing classic Southern fare at her beloved retreat business outside of Nashville, Hachland Hill, which is a stunning venue for weddings, corporate retreats and family reunions. When cooking, Phil will tell anyone she likes to stick to the classics and keep ingredients simple. “We like to pile it all on, but it should be simple. A vegetable, for instance, should just have butter, salt and pepper.”
Her advice to aspiring chefs also delivers a message of simplicity: “The advice that I give, and I don’t usually give advice, because you have to raise yourself up… be your own person. Don’t join the fads.” She also explains, following your own cooking style is best.
“I am often called a chef, but I like to call myself a cook. I have studied under master chefs, but I am a cook. When you step out of the pattern of copying, you become a cook. I am unique in the fact that I make my recipes for authenticity, and I reach out to others to learn.”
Along with Phila’s philosophy of not overcomplicating, she also has an appreciation for Nielsen-Massey products. “I love their pure flavors! I love that they are simple. I like simple things, simple tastes. I don’t like masking the tastes of meats and vegetables. And why wouldn’t you like vanilla? It’s the best!”
Phila is certainly a woman after our own hearts, enjoying ingredients that are pure and simple, just like Nielsen-Massey’s pure vanilla and flavor products.
For more information on Hachland Hill or Phila Hach, please visit hachlandhill.com.