Drew Nieporent’s Fantasy Dinner Party Involves Sean Penn and Robin Williams

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Photo: Patrick McMullan

Graydon Carter is famous for, among other things, meticulously arranging the seating charts at his restaurants Waverly Inn and Monkey Bar. So at his annual Tribeca Film Festival party last night, we asked some restaurateurs who would be at their ideal dinner party. The gregarious Drew Nieporent immediately rattled off his fantasy tablemates: “Alex Gibney, the great documentarian who did Catching Hell; definitely Sean Penn; Bruce Springsteen, of course; Bono and Graydon, actually; and then Robin Williams would have to be at the table because then there would never be any gaps.” 

A more thoughtful Thomas Keller had to think about it. “The fantasy dinner table?  Dead or alive?” Keller demanded. “How many people?” Uh, well, we were just, you know, asking, we stammered. “See, it’s a very important thing,” he said. Okay, let’s say four. “Well, certainly Laura Cunningham, I think Daniel Boulud, you know, who’s a really, really close friend of mine,” Keller began. “Gee, who else would I like to have there? Well, Graydon’s always very interesting to have at a table, and his wife Anna. So that would be a nice party of five; we’ve got a good dinner group there.” 

Meanwhile, Nieporent and his wife Ann were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, and they were off to dinner at Corton after the Vanity Fair party. Nieporent says he normally can’t get a table at his West Broadway place. “I made sure that they blocked some tables after nine o’clock, so I could get in. They blocked it online,” he said. So does he have any favorite dishes that he'll be requesting from the kitchen? “I’m going to be at the mercy of the chef. Whatever he wants me to eat I’m going to eat,” Nieporent said.