How do you cater to different skill levels?

Jennifer Rubell, 36, writer, renowned hostess, hotelier, Harvard grad and member of the illustrious Rubell clan, is poised to become the country’s newest entertaining guru.  Jennifer is currently Food and Entertaining Editor of the Miami Herald’s Home & Design magazine, Former Contributing Food Editor of, the recently folded (March 2009), Condé Nast shelter magazine Domino, and her first book, Real Life Entertaining, was released in May 2006 by HarperCollins.  She writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and has appeared in, among others, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Better Homes and Gardens, Elle, The New York Times, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Travel + Leisure, Ocean Drive and Food & Wine. In 2007, Paper Magazine named Jennifer one of its 30 most beautiful people.  

Entertaining is in Jennifer Rubell’s blood.  Her uncle, the late Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell, treated Jennifer as his own child, taking her along to parties with Halston, Calvin Klein, Liza Minelli and Bianca Jagger, and inviting her to every major event at Studio 54, starting at the age of 7.  Her parents, world-renowned contemporary art collectors Donald and Mera Rubell, became famous in the ‘80s for the Whitney Biennial after-party they hosted at their Upper East Side townhouse.  With artists like Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel and Andy Warhol roaming around the house, Mera turned out bowl after bowl of spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce, with Jennifer at her side learning the Rubell family style:  personal, unconventional and decidedly hands-on.

  • Transcript


Jennifer Rubell: Well when it comes to cooking, all the food that I make and that I recommend making is really for a pretty novice level cook.  And the way I accomplish that is I take classic combinations of flavors and execute them in the simplest possible way.  So if, for instance . . . You know there’s a recipe in my book for chicken legs with mustard, shallots, and thyme.  And that sort of . . .  You know chicken ins some kind of “creamyish”, mustard sauce is a classic French preparation.  But you could do it in a really complicated way.  Or I recommend putting all the ingredients – white wine, mustard, chicken legs, everything else in a pan, throwing the whole thing in the oven, and it cooks for about an hour.  And when it comes out, it’s this magical, creamy, mustard sauce with actually no cream in it which is also great.  And it feels like this wonderful, rustic, French dish.  But it was executed . . .  I mean anyone can throw everything in a pan and throw it in the oven – although sometimes people are so fearful that they do freakish things, and I can’t account for that.  But basically following those directions, you’ll get a really delicious, hearty meal with flavors that really marry and really sing.  So for me, the cooking has to be reduced to the simplest path.  And the flavors can be slightly more complex combinations where in the original dish they involve 15 steps.  And then in my version, which is a whole new invention of what the dish is anyway, it could be three or four steps.