Step into Heather Wiese-Alexander’s University Park kitchen, and you might mistake it for an Italian cucina. You won’t find terra cotta floor tiles or white-washed archways, but you will pick up the aroma of honey on aged Pecorino and the oaky scent of Wiese-Alexander’s Pulcino from Montepulciano.
“Our wine, honey, olive oil and beans are all from Italy,” says Wiese-Alexander, who owns Bell’Invito Stationers and Nest. Just before our meeting, she had received a shipment of her biologico (like U.S. organic) ingredients from her favorite farms in Italy. So when we walked in to the kitchen, she was whipping up bucatini with pancetta, red onion, carrots, aged Pecorino and ground peperoncini (from her Italian friend) and sipping on red wine before noon.
More than any room in her house, the kitchen is where all of her passions are expressed: cooking and design. It’s also the purest reflection of her impeccable aesthetic.
“I’m an architect’s worst nightmare,” says Wiese-Alexander, who also is a graphic designer. She used an illustrator program to create her dream kitchen and sent it to her architect — who uses different software.
“I designed all of the handles on the cabinets,” says Wiese-Alexander, who adores 1920s style. “Everything on the market was not delicate enough.”
Even her countertops were chosen purposefully. She was discouraged from using statuary marble, but she liked that it would eventually look lived in and went with it for the outer countertops. “But I chose [darker] soapstone in the center [island] for rolling out cookies.”
Her Viking refrigerator is almost double the size of a standard fridge, but it stores all of her fresh goods comfortably. She raves about her Miele coffee machine and steam convection oven and laughs when friends ask, “What is wrong with your microwave?”
She also cherishes her Viking gas stovetop. “In college, we had cooktops, and nothing cooked right,” she says. When she went to Italy to study abroad, she learned that the stove is as important as the ingredients.
Other beloved details in her kitchen include red Michael Anchin blown-glass light fixtures, a perfectly organized wine cooler and, of course, fresh home-grown hydrangeas. When she’s not stirring up something tasty in her kitchen, Wiese-Alexander is dining out, working, traveling around the world, or eating her husband’s pancakes.
As far as her favorite room is concerned, she says, “This is where all the memories are made.” That’s what we like to call la dolce vita.