Why are wealthier people less likely to entertain at home?

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 that’s a really good question.  I think that people get more insecure about what they think of as “high class living”.  And you know we’re a country of nouveau riche people.  Even if you came over on the Mayflower and made a ton of money early on, you’ve only had it for a few hundred years.  So it’s not . . .  We’re not a country of people who has a confidence in class position.  You know we . . .  Most of us just made it.  So wherever we are, we just made it there.  And we don’t know.

 You know I was talking to a yacht salesman the other day.  I was cooking this lunch on a yacht – definitely not my yacht – and the yacht salesman was telling me that whereas 20 years ago everybody buying yachts was 50 years old; today everybody is 35 years old.  You have all these kind of, you know, like Internet billionaires – all kinds of different billionaires made through the new economy.  And he said that people will turn to him and say, “Is this the right yacht?  Is this the . . .?”  And they’re buying . . . we’re talking about $30 million yachts.  So this is somebody spending $30 million, which means they can, you know, buy anything they want in the world, and they’re asking the yacht salesman, “Is this the right yacht?  Is this gonna . . .  Is this . . . For the class I’m in today that I wasn’t in two years ago, am I gonna fit in?”  And I think that it’s nice.  It’s a nice quality of America that people can move so quickly.  But a part of that is that they get to a place where they need a roadmap.  And you know a big part of what I do is giving people permission inside whatever place they are to say, “You don’t need the roadmap of that place.”  There may not even be a roadmap of that place.  You have to . . . you have to say, “I’m confident putting out this thing.  And it’s cool, and it’s fun, and it’s easy, and it’s me.”  And what’s funny is when you go to somebody’s house who’s really some kind of . . .  You know I remember when I was maybe 13 I went to this, you know, Bavarian princess’ kind of castle.  She was really into contemporary art and she did a lunch there.  And it was the most thrown together Bohemian lunch you’ve ever seen.  And so when you really get into the realm of people who have some kind of class – whatever that even is – for 1,000 years, they are sometimes the most easygoing, you know avant-garde, Bohemian souls there are.

Recorded on 12/13/07