What makes a great restaurant?

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: I think the vibe makes a great restaurant.  It’s so funny.  I think about food from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed.  But the restaurants I love are really about the feeling.  They’re not necessarily about the food.  The food has to be good, but it doesn’t . . .  It doesn’t determine . . .  It doesn’t determine whether that restaurant holds some special place in your heart, which is a great lesson for home cooks.  Because when you think about the restaurants you love to go to, are they the restaurants that have that unbelievable, absolutely perfectly executed food?  Or do you just kind of like something about what’s going on there?  I mean for me certainly – and I’m totally devoted to food – for me it’s certainly about sort of liking something that’s going on there.  And that’s what people are looking for when they come to your house for dinner too.  So it’s interesting, that need for feeling of conviviality, and comfort, and sort of like good vibe is really, really important to human beings for some reason.  It was programmed into us for some purpose.

Recorded on 12/13/07