Dame du Jour: Ruth Levine

By Maria Isabella, Interview by Carol Hacker
When Ruth Levine was looking for a job 25 years ago, she only wanted one thing: a flexible schedule. She had young kids at the time, and the ability to set her own schedule was essential to her. So she began catering for a wine store in Hudson.

Fast-forward to today when she owns her own hugely popular and highly successful restaurant: Bistro 185. And that didn’t happen by luck.

When advising someone just starting out in a culinary career, Ruth shares, “Get as much experience as you can. Start at the bottom and work up.” Which is exactly what she did herself.
Growing up, Ruth would watch intently as her mom cooked. Her favorite food was chicken soup with matzo balls and noodles.

In college, she would cook for her roommates and they would pass off Ruth’s food as their own to their boyfriends. After college, she worked – without pay – for a French chef for a year just to gain the experience. Then she worked yet another year – again without pay – this time for a Chinese chef.

Her combined experience and passion for food led her to eventually open her bistro, which is her proudest professional accomplishment to date.

When it comes to entertaining in her own home, Ruth likes to keep it very casual. “I’ll put a lot of food out on the kitchen island and just let my guests help themselves, especially in the summertime while we’re all out on the deck.”

How did Ruth first hear of Les Dames? “From Laura Taxel and Shara (Foldi) Bohach about three years ago,” she explains. “And the thing I have enjoyed most about being a member of this group,” she goes on to say, “is meeting other women in the food business.”

Learn more about Ruth as she shares some fun and interesting insights about herself.

Of all the places you’ve traveled, where did you have the best food?On Corfu in Greece at a restaurant that overlooked the Mediterranean Sea. You got to choose your own just-caught fish, and it was cooked sublimely simply.

Describe your perfect meal.
Perfectly roasted chicken, roasted red potatoes, and nice wine.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
A good glazed donut and a good kosher hot dog.

What’s your favorite snack?Potato chips and Tootsie Rolls.

What’s your go-to, quick-and-easy dinner?
Fish made as a simple sauté with butter, capers, lemon juice, and white wine.

What’s your favorite dessert to prepare?Anything with apples, year-round.

What’s the biggest cooking mistake you’ve ever made?
Overcooked Beef Wellingtons for 30. I had to re-do all of them!

Name 3 things that are always in your refrigerator.
Eggs, butter, and milk.

Name 3 kitchen gadgets you can’t live without.
Food processor, coffee maker, and mixer.

What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen pantry?
Canned baked beans.