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J Jill VP of Design Writes A Cookbook

Michael Leva, with the help of pal Nancy Parker, composed "Recipes for Parties," in stores now.

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Nancy Parker and Michael Leva.

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Whether a retailer, designer, publicist or editor, no one in fashion would say their job is less demanding these days. And yet J. Jill senior vice president of design Michael Leva had the energy to work overtime and write his first entertaining book, “Recipes for Parties,” with pal Nancy Parker, a textile whiz.

“If we can do this book, you can do these parties,” Leva says. “Two time-stressed people will show you how to make it really stylish, but also as easy as possible.”

To wit, the tome includes dozens of handy tips, from which type of music to play at an event to a detailed timeline to help preparation.

Perhaps the best advice of all? Rely on a little help from your friends. “My mom just got the book,” Leva says. “She’s like, ‘Man, you stole a lot of my recipes.’”

Here, Leva offers more suggestions for effortless entertaining.


Have a vision. “What do you want this to be like?” Leva asks, “Whether it’s a simple supper for best friends or a big cocktail party in the garden, you really have to say, ‘Why am I doing this and what is the end result supposed to be?’”

Have a plan. “I make lists,” Leva offers. “If I have 20 minutes to eat my lunch, I’ll make a guest list or plan a menu.”

Have high-quality ingredients
. “They do not have to be all homemade,” Leva says. “My mother always made her own pasta, but I rarely do and I don’t feel guilty about it.”

Have fun. “You have to set out to have a good time all along the way,” Leva says.
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