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The Kitchen Artist

No one goes to Francoise Kirkland’s house for dinner. Friends go there to dine.

What her husband, the photographer Douglas Kirkland’s studio is to him, the hub of his art, the capital city of his creativity, the kitchen is to Francoise.

It is the stage she was born to dance on.

Being French helps.


At 21 she met and fell in love with Douglas who was in Paris shooting Audrey Hepburn for Look Magazine. After finishing a doctorate in English, she followed the tall, lanky, ultra sexy artist to New York City. They eventually got married while on road trip to Las Vegas. It never occurred to her back then that she would be spending so much of her life in a kitchen.

 But again, being French perhaps it did!

Cooking, though, is indeed her art form and Francoise is a gifted artist.

Word got out early about Douglas Kirkland shoots. They were coveted jobs to land. The subject was always fascinating or sexy or amazing looking or all three. Douglas was a genius in motion, working from the depth of his soul as shown by the sweat on his brow.

But it was lunch that had the NYC advertizing world abuzz.
There was no calling down to the Deli for tuna sandwiches, no ordering in pizza and salad. The French chef in the studio kitchen with the cobalt blue eyes, wearing the tight skirt and high heels ( or barefoot) served a full feast every day for cast and crew.

Starting with soup or salad, going on to an entree of roast chicken or Beef Bourguignon, she would finish it up with tarte tatin made from scratch.

The talent, the assistants, hair and make up, everyone began echoing the studio’s most popular phrase by about 10 am; “When’s lunch?”


Even after all of these years (and thousands of shoots) the only time Francoise doesn’t make lunch is when they are on location. Then they all, including the Parisian chef, miss it.

That is because cooking and feeding people is what Francoise does. It isn’t her job or a chore, it’s just what she does. And she does it with such ease and so much love.


For the non pros, those of us who don’t work with Douglas but are lucky enough to be friends or family, there are dinners. Amazing dinners and for the very, very, oh -so –lucky there are Holiday Feasts! 

Here is a picture of Francoise as she entertains dinner guests; curly black hair, lots of it, swirling just past her shoulders. Dolce & Gabbana body fitting dress hugging her body perfectly. Heels: four to five inches. Right arm adorned with a stack of mismatched silver bracelets that make music when she moves.

She laughs and stirs the sauce on the stove.

She bends down to check the potatoes roasting in the oven.

Her heels clank on the floor as she crosses from oven to sink to wash lettuce.

All while she shares a funny antidote about her day. She is mesmerizing.

There is a small colorful bowl from Provence filled with perfectly oiled and salted almonds next to a tray of assorted French cheeses on top of the counter dividing the kitchen from the dinning room.

Guests nibble while watching her whisk fresh lemon juice into olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the salad.


The watching, the nibbling, the listening to the music of moving bracelets is all foreplay for what’s to come.

Like one of the Williams sisters playing tennis, Beyonce dancing, or yes, Douglas taking pictures, she makes it look so damn easy!


Those of us who invite our friends over for dinner but have never treated them to a true “dinning experience” (or, as my husband calls it, “real cooking!”) stand in awe of Francoise . Stand in awe and praise, waiting hopefully for our next dinner invitation.

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