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.
Jennifer Rubell: I think the most common mistake in home entertaining is being overambitious. So people have not entertained for a year. It’s the holidays, and they are gonna pull out all the stops, cook from scratch 15 different dishes; have a bar with six different, you know, special cocktails and a full bar; hire people to help serve. I think being overambitious is . . . It’s the worst thing you could do when you entertain because first of all you’re gonna fail. Because in order to do that, you really need to be in practice. And it just takes a lot of . . . it takes a lot of little errors to understand how to entertain that ambitiously well. And I’m not even interested in entertaining that ambitiously to begin with. And if you set yourself up for success instead, without sounding like too much of an infomercial, you’re gonna have a much better shot at having a successful party. So keep . . . keep it tight. Don’t be afraid of serving one really good dish. And also if you’re not into big experimentation . . . If experimentation with new dishes is just not . . . that just doesn’t give you intellectual and sensual pleasure, nail one dish and serve it all the time and just be known for that, you know? Have the best roasted chicken anybody has ever eaten, and people come to your house for that roasted chicken. Instead of trying something new every time; and you don’t really like doing it; and you’re totally fearful; and you test it out three days before, which I think is a totally crazy concept anyway. Yeah, just keep it really tight and play . . . play to your strengths and within your comfort zone.
Recorded on 12/13/07