“People are really partying again, they’re eating like savages,” said Janet O’Brien, who owns a namesake catering and event company that serves the East End. “It’s something that happens after a recession.”
She also traces big appetites of her clients to their amped-up workout regimens, including spinning, biking, surfing, and paddle boarding.
O’Brien herself “only has time for” one hour a week of personal training during high season in the Hamptons. The rest of the year she skis and hikes in Aspen and surfs in Peru.
She ate two dinners at the Watermill Center benefit: hers, and the entree left at the vacant seat next to hers. That meant two roasted hens stuffed with summer fruits and brioche, accompanied by purple potato salad, prepared by Canard Inc.
“I was very satisfied and I sent my compliments to the chef,” said O’Brien, who got her start as a private chef on a luxury yacht.
For drinks, rose is more popular than Champagne, because “you can drink more,” O’Brien said. “And special cocktails are huge -- we’re serving jalapeno or ginger vodka lemonades.”
Monc XIII, a home goods store in Sag Harbor, has become a favorite client. Homemade pigs in a blanket with dill mustard, mini tuna burgers, bison empanadas, mini croque monsieur and mini lobster rolls made the rounds at a recent Monc party.
For Jennifer Lopez’s birthday party in July, O’Brien set up stations serving Kobe beef sliders, kosher hot dogs and French fries tossed to order with truffle oil and parmesan cheese.
For dessert: an ice cream with toppings bar, cupcakes, fruit pies and a chocolate birthday cake with white frosting.
On the menu at various events: meat and fish dishes -- marinated flank steak and striped bass from Montauk, for example. Also kale, quinoa and couscous salads, with veggies and berries from local farm stands, mainly Halsey Farm & Nursery, Inc. on Deerfield Road in Water Mill and Pike Farms in Sagaponack.
“We do a plated first course, with all the baby beets that are happening, the local tomatoes and watermelon with Burrata,” said O’Brien, a Dublin native whose 23-year-old company is based in Southampton and Sag Harbor. Tuna tartar “is a definite hit,” she added. It’s served with avocado and ouzo lime dressing on a bed of limes.
Steve and Alexandra Cohen had a small gathering of friends over hamburgers, hotdogs, coleslaw, potato salad, corn and Carvel ice cream at their home in East Hampton on July 27.
Lauren London, president of London Misher Public Relations, attended the event. Her firm handles the publicity for Super Saturday, a benefit held earlier in the day for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. The Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation has been a “Super Benefactor” of this shopping extravaganza for several years.
Immediately following the event, London said, “The Cohens invited their personal Super Saturday guests for a casual dinner at their home, to thank them for their support. It was not a party, no tuna, nothing lavish.”
Unless of course you count its location, an oceanfront estate filled with art.
O’Brien has a tip for Cohen if he wants to avoid scrutiny as he socializes in public, in the wake of charges against his firm SAC Capital Advisors LP: For the Watermill Center benefit, she wore a red wig and sunglasses.
“I wanted to look at the art and not have to stop and talk to all my friends,” O’Brien said.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include New York and London weekend guides, Greg Evans and Craig Seligman on movies and Lewis Lapham on history.