Inside an Uptown Dinner Party at Christophe de Menil’s Home

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Christophe de Menil, left, with her friend Alina Morini. “My jumpsuit is gold triple-crêpe Italian-silk lamé. I made it about a year ago. I make a lot of jumpsuits.”
Christophe de Menil, left, with her friend Alina Morini. “My jumpsuit is gold triple-crêpe Italian-silk lamé. I made it about a year ago. I make a lot of jumpsuits.” Photo: Jeremy Liebman

“I believe in dinners,” says philanthropist, art patron, and costume and jewelry designer Christophe de Menil. “I host them all the time.” On this particular evening, de Menil invited 25 guests—most of them young patrons of the Water Mill Art Center—to her Upper East Side townhouse for a party catered by Stephen Kennard of Canard, Inc. The Water Mill “Byrds” mingled with de Menil’s close friends—Hole gallery’s Kathy Grayson; photographer Mick Rock; poet Nathaniel Siegel (who is working with de Menil on an upcoming memoir); artist Gedi Sibony; artist Max Snow (de Menil’s grandson) and his wife, Vanessa Traina Snow. De Menil collaborated with Canard, Inc., on the Normandy- and fall-inspired menu. Cups of orange butternut-squash bisque topped with white truffles were passed around to start, followed by Nantucket bay scallops and roasted squab. “I’m more interested in vegetables than meat these days; I have a new allergy to beef,” de Menil explains. In addition to cutting red meat from her diet, she’s stopped drinking prosecco, which has been a staple at her parties throughout the years. “My grandchildren’s nickname for me was ‘Prosecco,’ because I used to drink it every day. Now I only drink O’Doul’s. I wanted new energy. My doctor says I never looked better.” Following dessert (salted basil-ganache cake with pomegranate sauce), the guests adjourned to the music room, where de Menil’s friend, Alina Morini (a.k.a. the baroness of Manga, Morea, and Cefalù), performed a song she had composed for the evening on the piano. “It was all so exciting,” de Menil recalls. “It’s important to close your body for the day with a beautiful meal.”

Photo: Jeremy Liebman


The Menu:
Crisp potato cube with poached Maine lobster, American sturgeon caviar, crème frâiche, and microchives

Butternut-squash bisque with white-truffle shavings

Poached Nantucket bay scallops with lemon-thyme beurre blanc

Roasted squab with cream of cauliflower, chanterelles, and blackberry caviar

Shaved Point Reyes Bay blue cheese with green-apple sponge

Salted basil-ganache cake with pomegranate sauce

Photo: Jeremy Liebman

“I smoke Honey Rose cigarettes. They’re non-nicotine.” de Menil with Kathy Grayson.
“I smoke Honey Rose cigarettes. They’re non-nicotine.” de Menil with Kathy Grayson. Photo: Jeremy Liebman

Photo: Jeremy Liebman

Photo: Jeremy Liebman

Vanessa Traina Snow and Max Snow.
Vanessa Traina Snow and Max Snow. Photo: Jeremy Liebman


*This article appears in the November 10, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.

See Christophe de Menil Host Dinner for 25