Spirits are high in the Hamptons. And we’re celebrating like soldiers on leave: elbow bumping, air kissing, hugging like the long lost pals we really are. Yet, as some proclaim “Mission Accomplished” in the Covid war, statistics proclaim otherwise. So, like soldiers who may be called back to battle, we’re living for today.
Last weekend, we went from farm-to-table to table top. The farm-to-table mentality has been a thing out here for some time. Last year, it got even more local: our own backyards. Practically anybody who had sunshine and soil was posting photos of their harvested kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and radishes artfully arranged. So, bravo to that!
Daryl and Irwin Simon were ahead of that curve. He created Hains Celestial organic products in 1993. They hosted the second annual Fork It Alzheimer’s farm-to-fork dinner on their Bridgehampton estate. Together with their four kids under 30, Nicolette, Lucas, Trevor and Garett, they sold out the event, bringing in a young generation to dine on locally sourced fish, chicken, eggplant meatballs, fava bean salad and more, for the New York City and Long Island Alzheimer’s Association chapters.
“Having their support is just what we need right now to bring awareness to the next generation,” Princess Yasmin Aga Khan told me. She’s been a driving force for the Alzheimer’s Association for almost 40 years, honoring her mother, Rita Hayworth, who died of the disease.
Yasmin has a soft, unpretentious way about her. She’s also a testament to healthy living. The Mediterranean Diet has shown signs of staving away Alzheimer’s. She sticks close to that and away from fast food. “Everything in moderation,” she told me. “But, if it’s unhealthy and blocks the arteries, it probably affects the brain.”
She shares an athletic lifestyle with Blaise Labriola, referring to him, with a little giggle, as “my love of my life for the past 21 years.” They spend most of their time in Park City and summers in the Hamptons. “I love the quiet, open space in the mountains of Utah,” she told me. “And I fly into New York about once a month. (She’s had her Upper West Side apartment since the ’70s.) I’ve always loved outdoor sports. They put me on skis (in Gstaad) at age three. My father taught me to ride a horse when I was five. I took up tennis at 40. Then I went to golf. So, those are my favorites.” Those sporty days inspire early nights. “We golf, swim, do whatever. Then we want an early dinner, to watch the news and get in bed.”
Like Yasmin, Daryl also lost her mother to Alzheimer’s. And Irwin watched a longtime member of his company decline from Early Onset. “Raise your hand if you have somebody that you’re connected to who had Alzheimer’s,” he asked the crowd. The response was as if he had asked who had coffee for breakfast.
But, this was a night to be happy and proud. It was his birthday. They had raised more than $760,000. His wife was glowing. Their kids commandeered the podium with stage presence.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to me that everybody is coming out, not to celebrate my birthday, but to support Alzheimer’s,” Irwin told his guests. “Gotta tell you: if anyone wants to get married tomorrow or have a Bar Mitzvah, the tents will still be up!”
The party goes on, he enthused: “The neighbors won’t complain, they’re all here. The police are at the top of the street, so they are not coming. There’s plenty of alcohol and there should be some great music. Everybody here deserves to have a party. But be careful out there: Covid’s not gone yet.”
They rolled out his birthday cake, got the desert bites onto trays, the music going and the PYTs on the dance floor. How young were they? When “It’s Raining Men” played only my friends and I bounced around like disco bunnies … I guess, in their eyes, disco dinosaurs. The rest of the floor, filled with young girls in cut-out summer dresses and their Gen X dates, waited for a relevant tune.
Irwin was pretty relevant when he started Hains Celestial, helming it for 25 years. A man ahead of the curve, he then became CEO of Tilray Inc., a leading cannabis lifestyle and consumer packaged goods company in Canada. Did I hear right, I thought, when he alluded to a Cannabis King? It was CNBC Cannabis Correspondent Frank Holland, who had emceed the night.
Okay, Cannabis isn’t known for helping memory, but Alzheimer’s Association President and CEO Harry Johns told the room the FDA just approved the first drug to treat the underlying cause of the disease. It’s called ADUHELM.
Stacy Bash-Polley, Nadia Inwood, Robert Mayer, and Ed Scher served as the host committee for the event, and Matthew Sandberg and Nicolette Simon as Next Generation chairs. Jefferies Bank served as the event’s Presenting Sponsor, with additional support from Double Diamond Farms, Moelis & Company, Stacy, Ethan, and Owen Polley, Michael Serruya & Andy DeFrancesco, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, and Leesa and Leon Wagner.
Attendees included event founders and chairs Daryl and Irwin Simon, Alzheimer’s Association President and CEO Harry Johns, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Steve Madden, Ramy Brook, Corey Paige Bloomberg, Jill Heller, Frank Holland, Stew and Kim Leonard, Deanna Rockefeller, Michael Serruya, Nicole Sexton, Stacy Bash-Polley, and next generation chairs Matthew Sandberg and Nicolette Simon.
From healthy food to a happy table — we browsed around the Holiday House Inaugural “Coming Together “ Tabletop Event at Topping Rose. In our hand, a kickin’ cocktail, that had its own farm-to-table element. It was the Jean George specialty ginger margarita made with preservative free 100% Mexican Agave, Dano’s Tequilla.
Iris Dankner created Holiday House 15 years ago to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This year, she co-chaired with Campion Platt, Andrea Stark, Ashley Stark Kenner and Kenneth Alpert. Besides the featured designers she brought in, we chatted with CB2 designer and Brett Design founder Brett Beldock, Debra Halpert, Fern Mallis, Julie Ratner (another warrior against breast cancer as co-founder of the Ellen Hermanson Foundation), “So You Wanna be on TV” maven Amy Rosenblum (who put Kathie Lee and Hoda together), Dan Berg and Andy Stark.
After surviving a tough year with breast cancer 24 years ago, Dankner started her work for the cause with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She led their largest team, then chaired the race, became one of their delegates to Egypt, and helped bring it to Israel. “Then, I wondered, what am I going to do now?” she told us. “I had been Art Director for Lord and Taylor (1978-91), then an interior designer, then a full-time fund raiser as well. So, I combined my passions and created the first event in the interior design world to benefit women’s issues.”
Until now, her events were design houses. But, try finding a house in the Hamptons this year! She also had concerns about being indoors. So, she asked for tabletops and ancillary furnishings.
What did they bring to the table? Bright colors and ethnic touches.
“Tabletop has become a true art,” designer Melanie Roy told us. To drive that home, she built her setting around a chartreuse sculpture and threw in a painting on the wall behind. “Not matching everything is a big trend,” she continued, “using a lot of different patterns and colors to create something homey and unique.”
“Maximalism is back, bigger than ever,” designer Christina Nielsen told us. “People are so into color and brushing aside the neutral table top palette. Interesting textures and patterns are coming back. After being home alone for 18 months, entertaining is so appreciated.”
Sarah Lederman of Sarah Lederman Interiors went ethnic, too. “My table is a new take on the blue and white Hamptons color scheme,” she told us. “Ethnic is trending. Here, my dishes were hand-painted in Portugal. My linens were block printed in India. Everything is made all over the world. It’s more interesting and brings your table to life.”
Campion Platt took his ethnic inspiration from the Heritage Brazil design and art showroom. It seems to be trending too: Iris Dankner has shown paintings there. Mark Seidenfeld’s exhibit just opened.
“I brought what I love in their show room,” he said. “They use all indigenous materials. In fact, the pillows are actually fish scales from the largest freshwater fish in the world.” I made him repeat that. Yes they are pillows made from the cured scales of huge freshwater carp. Like the Hamptons, “packed to the gills” and beautiful. Platt’s take on the Holiday House theme is “ a much more relaxed dining experience. The pillows are in the floor by a coffee table. It’s the suggestion of the beginning of a meal.”
The furniture works for the new Hamptons homes springing up like wild roses by the beach. “I see all these new glass, boxy, modern houses everywhere,” he continued. “Which is appropriate because the Hamptons have always been about experimental architecture. This furniture, eco and ‘green,’ lends itself to the more modern house that’s being built out here. I imagined this quiet, serene landscape as a dining experience in one of them.”
Platt is also on trend personally, valuing the quality time he spent quarantining with his family in Palm Beach. He was moving his office to spend more time there, anyways, when the pandemic hit. So, he said, his year involved lots of long walks and local trips.”
“It’s been a terrible thing for the whole planet,’ he told us. “But I would say if I was going to think about where I’d want to spend that year with my children, it would be in that house on the water.”
Fork It Covid … Next year, we’re going to Florida!
Photographs by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images (Fork It Alzheimer’s); Eric Striffler & Kristin Gray (Holiday House).