Inside the Nest of Amy Anton

“Once you share a home cooked meal with someone, they are your friend for life.”

The swank and stylish abode  of Amy Anton is a polished  nest that’s also home to a  lively trio of tween boys plus one large Labrador. And take notice: The lady of this house makes a mean kale salad and whips up rack of lamb in Talitha Getty-ish caftans and flip-flops, with The Police blaring from her iPod.

Art Direction Michelle Aviña. Interior decoration Elizabeth Satel Young of ESY Design. Hair ashley scroggins for cutloose salon. Makeup Teri Sullivan. Sittings assistant Erin Oppeneim.

Amy Anton is a bit of a paradox. She’s a fitness fanatic (scuba diver, runner) and ardent foodie … a founding board member of Gracie Cavnar’s Recipe for Success and catalyst for the nonprofit’s newly minted RecipeHouse … a doer and dedicated volunteer … wife of Hourglass Capital partner Drew Anton (theirs was a Washington and Lee college romance) … and mom of three boys (dashing gents around the playground Ashton, 11, and twins Pete and Elliot, 9). She’s also a children’s-book author whose first volume detailed a charming tale of underwater archaeology involving an octopus named Ina (mom MaryFaye Way was the book’s illustrator), and she’s an adventuresome traveler, with destinations ranging from Panama to Turkey logged in her passport. Here’s what’s cookin’ with Miz Anton.

Top Dish. I won an Italian cooking recipe sponsored by Saveur Magazine. I went to Italy, to Tuscany and Umbria for a week with four other winners, and we stayed in all of the Antinori family’s private estates. We cooked with their chefs and drank their amazing wines. I had three children under the age of four at the time, so it was a much-needed escape. My winning recipe? Braised lamb shanks. I cooked it [again] for 12 friends for my birthday dinner a couple years ago. We set up tables in the back yard and pretended we were in Tuscany.

Fitness Triumph. Drew and I both work out with Wooch Graff at Timberline Fitness. He is incredibly motivating, and we love the challenges he gives us. The gym has this amazing vibe. Everyone there cares about you, and everyone is there to work out and push themselves. Last year, Drew and I did the Tough Mudder race, which was a 12-mile race with 20 obstacles. It was 40 degrees outside, and half the obstacles involved water or ice.

Child-Rearing. Healthy food leads to a healthy body, which begets a healthy mind. It is so important to sit down at the dinner table with your kids and share a meal and talk about what’s going on in their lives. With regard to healthy food and kids, you just have to keep trying. Keep serving salad. My kids and husband love to eat and cook because we make it fun and include them. Ashton likes to make Caesar dressing, and the twins love to make my grandmother’s lemon squares — they even know the secret ingredient if you ask them! Drew can grill anything, so we do a lot of fish and chicken and pizza on the grill. Then we all sit down in the dining room and talk about our day. It’s a lot of work, but worth it.

House Music. I am not the DJ in the family; Drew and my kids are. When we’re not listening to their favorites, we listen to the music we used to play in college: Allman Brothers, Van Morrison, Rolling Stones, The Doors, Led Zeppelin.

Fashion Designer. Right now, I’m loving Isabel Marant, Stella McCartney and Zero + Maria Cornejo, but I like to pick up things from designers no one has heard about.

Personal Style. Eclectic and easy. I never know when I’ll have to run outside and throw the lacrosse ball with the boys. I also tend to wear flip-flops 365 days a year. It’s a bad habit.

Must-Shop Houston Retailers. I love small boutiques where I can get one-of-a-kind things, such as Leap and Sloan/Hall. Abejas is a great place for on-the-go travel clothes.

Home Decoration. Hollywood glamour mixed with a clean modern aesthetic. I also have a lot of souvenirs from traveling, which I like to incorporate. Everything has a story here, if you can believe it. Also, everything has to be comfortable for Drew and the kids. We use every room in the house, especially when we entertain, which is often.

Design Stops. Kuhl-Linscomb, Found and IKEA.

Summer Reading. I just finished the new Jonathan Franzen book, Freedom, and Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram is a tome but worth the read. Fave volume of all time? Tie between Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha and Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. Very different books, but both are journeys with classic life lessons.

If an Actress Were to Play You ... Julianne Moore.

Next Destination. On my way to Spain in two weeks with Drew. Last trip was to Panama, to dive on an ancient shipwreck. We always have a trip on the books. It gives us something to look forward to. We’re going to Nicaragua for Christmas, and next summer, I’m dying to take the kids to Turkey for a month.
Guilty Pleasure. The $2 bag of Santitos Tortilla Chips. I eat them all day long.

Weekend Retreat. Wimberley. The kids run around and swim and fish. My dad built a climbing wall and has zip lines everywhere. Drew and I go for a long run, and then Mom and I plan a yummy dinner that usually involves something from the garden and includes lots of friends. Drew grills.

Travel Adventure. Thanks to my dad [Peter Way], I dove on a 17th-century shipwreck. Horseshoes and nails and a sword have been recovered, which may have belonged to the pirate Captain Morgan. Pretty cool to see something that old underwater.

Fitness Triumph. Drew and I both work out with Wooch Graff at Timberline Fitness. He is incredibly motivating, and we love the challenges he gives us. The gym has this amazing vibe. Everyone there cares about you, and everyone is there to work out and push themselves. Last year, Drew and I did the Tough Mudder race, which was a 12-mile race with 20 obstacles. It was 40 degrees outside, and half the obstacles involved water or ice.

Hair Care. Moroccan Hair Oil. It makes your hair so shiny!

Hair Cut. Christine Thai from Lot 8 Salon. We’re good friends.

Garden. Right now it’s tomato season, so I will be drying tomatoes and making sauces to freeze when I get back to Wimberley. You wait and wait for them, and then you have more than you can eat! It’s magical to have my kids come up from the garden with a whole basket of tomatoes. We just harvested carrots, beets, onions and garlic. I made plum jelly at the beginning of the summer.

Cause. I became involved in Recipe for Success when Gracie Cavnar launched the nonprofit eight years ago. Gracie knows how passionate I am about food, so she called me right away, and I’ve remained on the board since then. I spent a lot of time at MacGregor Elementary, helping chefs Monica Pope and Randy Evans teach cooking and nutrition to fourth graders. Now I’m in charge of our new space, Recipehouse in Montrose, where we host cooking classes, meetings, birthdays parties for kids and adults. I hosted the kickoff party in March with chef Elizabeth Winston from Farmhouse Delivery. The menu included goat cheese bread pudding.

Childhood. I grew up as countertop baby, learning to cook from my mom, who is an amazing cook. My parents would have interesting people to dinner all the time, so the dinner table was a place to share food and ideas.

Houston Dining Spot (Besides Your Kitchen). T’afia. Owner Monica Pope is a friend, as she and I started on the board of Recipe for Success in 2005. I like to support her and think her menu is so innovative.

Kale Caesar Salad, one of Ashton’s faves
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash Worcestershire sauce
1 T Dijon mustard
2 anchovy filets
1 egg yolk
1/2 C grape seed oil (or other mild-flavored oil)
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 head Kale

 Juice the lemon and mince the garlic and let them sit in a small mixing bowl while you chop the kale. Whisk in the Worchester sauce, Dijon, anchovy and egg yolk. Ashton loves to break the egg in his hand, let the white run through his hands, and add the yolk. Slowly add the oil while whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the Parmesan, and pour the desired amount over kale. Best to let it sit for a half-hour to absorb the flavors.



“We love our backyard,” Anton says. “My friend Betty Maccagnan of MB Simple did that landscape design … We built a fire pit where the boys roast marshmallows.”

Of her fave spot in the living room, Anton says, “The gray-and-white sofa took almost a year to get right. We had it painted, and then I waited and waited for the fabric. No other color really worked, and I wanted that big stripe in the middle. That is the only thing the kids aren’t allowed on.” The gray in the striped sofa is Gainsborough velvet in Zinc by Schumacher. Dress by Tsumori Chisato, ring Halleh, bracelet Martin Bernstein from Sloan/Hall. Jimmy Choo shoes from Tootsies. Table from Mecox Gardens. 

This serene and handsome dining room has hosted many family dinners. Table base from Area. The chairs were a fortuitous secondhand purchase, reupholstered in green mohair. Chandelier from a warehouse sale, rewired by Alcon Lightcraft. The painting is actually a fused-glass creation, Orfeo Quagliata’s Barcode #17, 2007, from Peel Gallery.

In the living room, Anton’s sons (Ashton, Elliot and Pete) are poised for action. Sofa upholstered in Kravet velvet 26414. All custom upholstery by Jose Lopez for ESY Design. The Beacon Hill cocktail table was a find from Decorative Center Houston, acquired by the late Susie Jacomini, who began the couple’s design work. Star sculpture from PH Design Shop. Texas Artists Today book. Houston artist Marcelyn McNeil’s Billows, 2012, from Anya Tish Gallery.

Who’s in the kitchen with Amy? Anton instructs her sons in the art of mixing a salad from fresh local veggies acquired during the family’s weekly trips to the Rice University Farmers Market every Tuesday. Anton reveals, “We bought the house 10 years ago because we loved all the windows and I coveted the eight-burner Dacor stove/oven.”

Drink up. Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy adds drama to the well-stocked bar. Tray from Area. What’s poured? The house specialty is tequila on the rocks with lime. Drew bartends. The kids drink milk.

White cube. On the stairs to the boys’ rooms, their artwork is displayed. The flag once flew at Anton’s parents’ ranch in Wimberley.

Study in black and white. In the library/media room, Anton wears a Stella McCartney top and pants from Tootsies with Christian Louboutin shoes from Saks Fifth Avenue. “We immediately painted most of the rooms in the neutral colors Amy is naturally drawn to,” notes designer Elizabeth Satel Young, who characterizes her client as “very laid-back.” Young selected a carpet by Stark to set a tranquil tone for this high-traffic space. On the sofa, zebra pillows from Area add pop. Above, Joe Mancuso’s Cathedral (White), 2004, from Barbara Davis Gallery, is an Anton favorite. “What I love about the Mancuso piece,” she says, “is that it appears to be so white, but the closer you get, the more color is revealed — like people! I also loved going to his studio and hanging out with him and picking out the painting.”

Farm to table at Casa Anton.

Cocktail party. Anton rocks an evening frock by Nina Ricci with shoes by Rupert Sanderson, both from Tootsies, while making an entrance at the bar.