Meet DVF's Chef

Jane Coxwell is a jet-setting private chef who cooks with as much vibrance and color as her iconic client designs.

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On a remote beach in Costa Rica, lit only by bonfire embers and shooting stars, a fresh dinner is prepared on the sand. To you: Paradise. To Jane Coxwell — personal chef to fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg and author of the new book Fresh Happy Tasty — it's another day on the job.

The South African born chef has been circumnavigating the globe making meals for DVF for about four years, picking up a little bit of every place she visits. Coxwell’s dishes — and the book — are filled with fresh, quaint ingredients like agave nectar and fresh mint leaves, many of which reflect DVF’s own style when it comes to food: “She eats food that matches her personality,” Coxwell says, “and moves towards anything that’s colorful, vibrant and exciting.”

Coxwell’s view on food is all about a flair for the experience it creates and the ways it brings people together. “[DVF] loves coming into the kitchen,” Coxwell explains, “I keep spoons out so she can taste things while I cook." In keeping with her joyful and relaxed approach to food, Coxwell offers insider secrets and hard-earned advice:

For a dinner party…
Serve low maintenance, tasty dishes like tangines, and Thai or Indian curries, says Coxwell. “You can make them in advance, leave them on the stovetop, and heat them up when you're ready.” And leave the plates to restaurants — family style allows your guests to eat as they please, she adds. Most importantly: “When DVF talks about entertaining, she says the host needs to be happy in order for the guests to have a good time — which is so true. Pour yourself a glass of wine, keep it simple, and have fun.”

For eating healthier naturally...
“Sometimes we choose food that isn't good for us because we feel it's more satisfying, but we can trick our taste buds with bold, lively flavors and feel just as satisfied. DVF likes to be healthy, but she's not afraid to eat real food. I like to make things that feel richer with toasted nuts, and more vibrant and full with lots of spices and good use of lemon. I also use fat free sour cream to finish off things that I want to make a little more luxurious. The sour flavor gives lovely depth — the same way a squeeze of lemon does at the end of cooking.”

For cooking on the go...
“I make a lot of quinoa salads for DVF. They are great on the go and are substantial enough to fuel a busy body.” The best part: It's really easy to make quinoa taste great, she says. Try Coxwell’s quick Quinoa with Pomegranate, Nuts and Soft Herbs recipe.

For cooking in small spaces...
“Concentrate on doing a few simple things very well. I'd rather have a basic salad that is delicious, than a whole meal that is not great because it was poorly executed,” Coxwell says. And remember, equipment can take up a lot of valuable space. The basics: “I always have a good knife, a good little serrated knife, a microplane, and a lemon squeeze.” Don’t forget to clean as you go either — “it makes the task in a small space seem so much less chaotic.”

For stocking your pantry...
There are certain things that enhance any dish: lemons, fresh herbs, great sea salt, garlic and onions, says Coxwell. “These are the basis for so many great and quick meals.” But when it comes to the perfect food to freeze and use when you’re ready? “DVF has a soup every night to start her meal,” says Coxwell. “They’re often overlooked, but simple to make and a great way to get a good dose of goodness.”