What is your philosophy of successful entertaining?

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 the first, most important thing is that the host has to be calm, relaxed, comfortable, not freaked out, and not feeling judged.  So the . . . getting the host in a frame of mind where judgment is not the main thing occupying their head, but really providing something delicious and comfortable for their friends – that shift is the key to really good entertaining. if you’re stressing about it the whole time it can be memorable, but in a really unpleasant way.  And then also you’re likely not to do it all the time.  And the whole stress around entertaining, I think it’s some kind of like class problem, especially in America.  I think people are terribly afraid that their friends are gonna think that their house is not swanky enough; or that they’re not sophisticated enough.  And everybody feels that.  What’s funny is that the higher you climb up the socioeconomic ladder, the more intimidated people are to show where they live, because they think whoever they’re inviting has a better life than they do.  And it’s not true for anyone.  No one’s coming to your house and saying, “I can’t believe that they didn’t dust the coffee table.”  You know nobody cares. After that, the food has to be good, and I believe the food has to be homemade.  But homemade could literally be only serving, you know, boxed spaghetti with a tomato sauce made from chopped garlic and crushed tomatoes cooked for a half hour.  You know that . . . that, to me, is great homemade food.  So it’s not about complicated food.  But I do think that cooking the food yourself – people walking in the house and smelling good, home cooked food is a huge part of entertaining.

Recorded on 12/13/07