Sunday, January 18, 2015

Phila Hach

 Here she is, one of my most admired women,

Phila Hach!

In my last post I promised to tell you about this amazing woman who has lived her life with passion. 

A "stewardess" for American Airlines in the 1940s.
Degrees from Ward-Belmont College
and Vanderbilt University.
Host of Nashville's first televised cooking show.
Pastry chef at Princess Diana's wedding.
At 83 spoke in Las Vegas to 4,000 caterers.
Has written 17 cookbooks. 
Has owned and operated a corporate retreat
with her son for almost three decades.

I've been an ardent fan of Phila Hach's since the early 1970s and my mother was one long before me, watching her Kooking Kollege on WSM-TV in the 1950s.

In the 1970s The Tennessean newspaper used to have weekly columns featuring local cooks. I still have notebooks full of my favorite clippings. In this one beautiful Phila and her handsome husband Adolf showed what was a true Southern ladies' luncheon of the time with this menu:

Original Chicken a la King
(nothing like the dish comedians make fun of)
Sally Lunn Muffins
Frozen Fruit Salad
Pickled Vegetable Marinade
Bavarian Cream
Butter Cake
French Water Mints

These old newspaper photos were from the February 13, 1975 Tennessean. 

When this next picture and article came out, I was determined to visit the Hach's restaurant in Clarksville, Tennessee.

One night R.H. and I, my mother and father and if I remember correctly at least one of my sisters, went to Hachland Hill for one of the best country ham dinners of my life.

Dining there was by appointment only and you chose your dinner when you called to make the appointment. We had the country ham and all its Southern side dishes and dined in the Garden Room of the Spanish Colonial home.

There was also the Ballroom, the Terrace Room, the 1790 log house, which we toured with Mrs. Hach after dinner, her telling us the story of some of the antiques furnishing it. It was a glittering evening and I still remember the sweet smiling faces of Mr. and Mrs. Hach and the welcome they showed us. 

They looked exactly like they do in this old newspaper photo, only much more beautiful.


Fast forward almost 40 years, and who do you suppose I saw as I sat in our car outside our small neighborhood grocery store a few months ago when R.H. was inside shopping?

It was Phila Hach herself, leaving the store with a few bags of groceries in her cart, driving herself. I instantly recognized her and wanted so much to run over and say hello. But I didn't, just felt as if I'd seen an old friend, one I rejoiced was still active in the corporate retreat and bed and breakfast her family operates near us.

Then one day in November R.H. showed me a magazine that had just come in the mail, Tennessee Home & Farm. 

R.H. said, "Remember her?" 

I squealed, "Of course, it's Phila Hach! I saw her at the grocery store not long ago!"

Friends, at 87 this wonderful woman is still cooking! In many, many ways! No more pictures now, but please take time to read her quotes from the magazine article.

Talk about passion for life, see if you agree that Phila Hach has it!

"If people could just open the door to opportunity, it's there. You don't do it; it comes to you. If I had known there was a television show coming, I could've worked my behind off trying to get it, but you have to live your life so that what you do makes people stop and look."

"My message in life is to keep it simple, to keep it beautiful, to keep it honorable, to keep it real."

What a fine challenge that is: "Keep it simple, keep it beautiful, keep it honorable, keep it real."

If I see Phila Hach at the grocery store again I'm going to go over and say thank you.

[Here's a link to some of Phila's cookbooks on Amazon. 

And a link to her business, Hachland Hill, Countryside Retreat. ]

Monday January 19: Please visit today's guest writer of Jemma's Passion, Purpose, and Productivity Project, Honora of Pondside, for a post that will remind all of us of times in our own lives.

And here is a link to Jemma's eloquent post today as she introduces Honora, and writes herself of choices to let some things go so that there is more time for living a life with passion, purpose and productivity.


  1. What a well intentioned, meaningful life this woman has led! That is not the only thing you two have in common...she too has the inner glow that comes from living such a life. It's unmistakable.

  2. Phila truly lives life with passion!! This was a beautiful post about an amazing and lovely woman!!

  3. OH! i just loved this. and that it has a happy ending still going on . . .
    and she's still so beautiful! and to know she's still apparently very vital and healthy and continuing to do what she loves.
    yes. passionate indeed!
    thank you.
    i'm going now to hachland hill countryside retreat. THANK YOU! for the link and this wonderful post.

  4. oh dewena...
    there is the most beautiful picture of her in the 'about' section of their website.
    i'm sure you have already seen it many times. but it's so unusual and grand.

    what a marvelous and lovely place! makes me want to go there right now.
    and to think she's still very active there and prime chef! the energy of the lady!

  5. This is so interesting!
    and fun.


  6. One of the best things about blogging is the introduction to so many wonderful people - and to the people, places and things about which they themselves are are interested. I'd never heard about the remarkable Mrs Hach, and now I'll be reading up on her retreat and thinking 'maybe someday......' I certainly admire her advice!

  7. Dewena,
    I have read this post several times and just felt so energized and enthused by Phila and you! Passion exudes from you both. What an example this woman is setting for all women in all walks of life. Such a beautiful message which she has lived her life by.
    Wonderful post, Dewena!

  8. Dear Dewena,

    I know how excited you get about some of the characters you have come across in your many, many books, so it was no surprise that, when you actually discovered, and then met, this great protagonist of real life, you were over the moon with admiration and respect.

    Phila Hach: I'd never heard of her, nor would I have come across this amazingly talented lady if it weren't for your wonderful tribute to her, and I thank you for this. Since having read this inspiring post several times, I've 'visited' Hachland Hill Countryside Retreat more than once, (the lovely music can take some credit for that), and have enjoyed reading all about the history, accommodations, dining experience, as well as Phila, herself, and her son, Joe.

    But, as impressive as all the words are, (perhaps since I had already been informed of Phila Hach's countless accomplishments via Dewena's Window), it is the beautiful portrait, in which the lovely Mrs. Hach is leaning on that well preserved, tall buffet, with the warm walnut finish, that has captured my heart. Did you notice how her sweet profile, snow white hair tied in a bun, so elegantly mirrors the stately, creamy white water pitcher and wash basin directly across from her? Needless to say, this photograph, so artfully staged, is a painting in disguise, and I am utterly intrigued! Can't you just see it, adorning the walls of her family's fine establishment?

    Thank you, my friend, for being the eternal student, wandering the halls of knowledge, and finding such inspirational stories, both in the fictional and non-fictional world. We, in the latter, so truly appreciate it!

    Love to you!

  9. Coming over to visit from my Mom's blog, Living Life on Main Street. She recommended you, and I thoroughly enjoyed this post about Phila Hach! What a remarkable woman! So interesting to learn about her! I hope you will come by and visit my blog as well.

  10. For some inexplicable reason, I am often "the last one to know". I was understandably disappointed when you ended your former blog, but I came back to it from time to time hoping you had had second thoughts. Now I have stumbled upon you once again and have found that I have over 100 posts to read in order to catch up. I will not read them all at once, mind you, because some of them--like today's post--are meant to be savored.

    "Keep it simple, keep it beautiful, keep it honorable, keep it real..." that is surely something that needs chewing on before I Move on to the Next Thing. And then there is the delightful distraction of recommended reading you allude to that I cannot resist...

    So glad to have found you once again even if it means the ironing falls behind.

  11. Hi Dewena, what a wonderful post about a very inspiring, lovely lady! I hope to be doing a fraction of what she is doing at her age! I think she would have loved a parking lot chat with you too! She really is remarkable! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Amazing first visit. Initially, your header, and my vanishing threshold. You GET it.

    Then Phila Hach. New to me. I wonder, did she know Anne Morrow Lindbergh?

    You are going on my blogroll and this post off to friends.

    Again, what a day for a first visit with you. Again, Providence.

    Thank you.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  13. That's amazing that you saw and recognized her. I bet she would be very gracious if you stopped her next time (and I somehow think there will be a next time!). Love her quotes. She really knows how to live.

  14. thank you!

    what inspiration! even just knowing she is out there and still active.

    what inspiration.

    don't know about other ladies-of-a-certain-age, but I am in dire need of some inspiration, about now.

    nothing like a cold-from-hell, to take the starch out of me! I'm very happy for any and all inspiration, I can possibly get.

    grateful gentle hugs...

  15. Hey Dewena ... This is such a lovely post for a delightful Lady ...
    "Keep it simple, keep it beautiful, keep it honorable, keep it real"...I love that... Thanks for sharing...Hugs

  16. Oh, she sounds like a delightful woman, Dewena. What a surprise to see her coming out of the supermarket! I bet you were thrilled. Wow, the pastry chef at Princess Diana's wedding! Wouldn't it be nice to see a picture of her as a stewardess for American Airlines in the 1940's? She sounds like a remarkable woman, and that country ham dish sounds delicious.

    Your comment made me smile today, and I LOVED the gentlemen quote haha.


  17. Dewena, the woman in this post is my grandmother. I am so appreciative and overjoyed of how you have painted her in this light. I am going to send this to my parents to show her. I just wanted to say thank you for your lovely and thoughtful words. She will appreciate them!

    1. Thank you so much! This made my day! As you can see, many of my readers really appreciated learning of your grandmother. She has inspired us all as women.

      Best wishes to your grandmother, your parents and to you,

  18. Phila passed away in December 2015. I was so sad to find this out. I went down the google rabbit hole thanks to a friend who recently had his wedding at Hachland Hill (now Tanglewood House) and ran across this. Thanks for a great post.

    Hachland Hill in Clarksville was right up the road from me and I drove by there a thousand timesas a child, then later as an adult. I had no idea what the place was. It seemed to me, at the time, an upscale "swanky" place and I didn't give it much thought.

    I was in the restaurant business for many years and a cook friend of mine started working there, just helping out with prep and handyman type stuff. He introduced me to Phila in 2002-2003. At first I was a little intimidated by her, but I came to know her a bit for a few years. I think I even gained her respect when I helped her prep food one time - cleaning and chopping vegetables for a large banquet, I held my own and got the job done faster and better than I think she expected. She opened up on a number of occasions, telling me stories from the flight attendant days, the experience with cuisine in Europe, but mostly she seemed to love talking about the people who passed through her life and her inn. It was fascinating to hear the stories and to see her passion for food and people.

    I was amazed at her energy, her passion, her cooking, her stories, her accomplishments, her photos with all the VIPs and stars who passed through Hachland Hill (most always came back). She took most everyone's picture and had albums and albums full pictures of people who had stayed there and/or she had cooked for. I'm proud to say that there is a picture of me in one of those albums. I am more proud to say that I knew her a little. What an amazing lady.