Psychic relief

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The line for the Met on Memorial Day. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Sunny and warm, in the 70s, yesterday in New York. That was our reward for the past week of grey, rainy, cool, even cold New York weather. Mother Nature gave us the 11 o’clock number beginning on Friday. It rained all day Saturday. Or was it Sunday? The days drive by in these times of ours.

I stayed put. That’s been my Summer weekend habit for decades. In my youth, lost in the stars, the Hamptons were a must-go. I met my wife one midsummer night in a discotheque (as they were called back then) called Mitty’s General Store on Route 27 east of Southampton. The beginning of my life (in retrospect). We even looked at property in Southampton but we rented and shared houses in summer out there. We wandered away from it all after a few years. I went back there for the first time years later when I came back here from living in Los Angeles. The New York Social Diary took over my calendar and my life. Gladly and thankfully. And the trip out and back every weekend (as a houseguest) was almost like a second job. Appreciated, grateful for, and don’t miss it. Although I remember it all with interest and pleasure of the company I was keeping.

Park Avenue, Memorial Day 2021.

Meanwhile. This past weekend, the city was quieter than I’ve ever seen it. Ever. I didn’t go there but I’ll bet downtown was jumping, because That Is The Place To Go in New York for the hip, the chic and the shameless at nighttime. Not to mention the crowds from NJ, CT, and LI who gather weekends. This past weekend? I’m just guessing that it was busy. Besides, these days there’s a lot of psychic relief in getting out and about with others, around others; it’s relief. I did that for dinner uptown (UES) at Sette Mezzo on Friday and Saturday. Quieter with a lot of the clientele out of town for the weekend. But fit the bill.

Otherwise I had to write a portrait of Glenn Bernbaum, the proprietor of Mortimers – one of the hottest and last of the Smart Set restaurants in the last century. Glenn had a knotty personality at times that actually gave his restaurant shades of the hauteur that patronized the place regularly. Fame and the famous as well, within a certain crowd/group of people; what used to be called Society.

Glenn at table, 1990. Photo: Mary Hilliard.

I dined there once back when it opened. I was a kid, unknown and irrelevant to Mr. Bernbaum. I don’t recall even seeing him or knowing about him at that point. I had a date that night and she was as interested as I in seeing what all the hullabaloo was about. There was no reservation access, so you had to wait in line. Although at the bar.  I remember only the part at the bar where you could clearly see everyone at table. 

The room was smoky and packed. It was a casual spot but people dressed; jacket and tie for him; her best cocktail or dinner dress for dinner in a room of dark browns except the immense brick wall that stretched from entrance to exit. It was the bare brick of the old building, worn and aged and also comforting.

He had a maître d’, Robert Caravaggi, who now has Swifty’s at the Colony in Palm Beach but Glenn moved around, dressed in a business suit, glasses; well-tailored but not noticeable. Easy to smile but just as easy to turn to crabby. He loved his clientele, however, and treated many of the regulars with an easy charm that endeared him in retrospect. Otherwise, he was the parent in the house. Anne Slater, the social blonde beauty with a lustrous charm, once told me about being at Mortimer’s for lunch one day when Glenn passing by her table quickly, loudly scolded: “I don’t  like that lipstick …”

To which the sophisticated and always charming Mrs. Slater responded: “Well then, you shouldn’t wear it darling.”

Anne Slater, Glenn Bernbaum, John Cahill, and Aileen Mehle. Photo: Mary Hilliard.

More, bigger meanwhile. City Harvest, New York’s first and largest food rescue organization hosted its first-ever Spring Dinner high above the town overlooking Rockefeller Center on a beautiful night last week.

The guests gathered together to recommit to ensuring that no New Yorker goes hungry. The evening marked the Renewed Commitment to Helping New Yorkers Facing Food Insecurity as the City Begins to Reopen.

The Spring Dinner took place at 620 Loft & Garden, overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the heart of Manhattan. Like other nonprofits across New York, City Harvest was forced to cancel many of its signature in-person fundraising events — including its annual spring gala. In response, City Harvest gala co-chairs Lise and Michael Evans,  Sandra and Eric Ripert, Carola and Robert Jain, Christine and Richard Mack, Kristen and Patrick McMahon, and Shirley Madhere-Weil and Michael Weil, joined guests.

620 Loft & Garden

At this time, City Harvest continues to serve New Yorkers in need at a record pace – rescuing and delivering more than 165 million pounds of free, nutritious food during the pandemic. That’s more than twice the amount of food the organization rescued and delivered the year before. Food insecurity rates surged 41% overall in New York City – and a stunning 53% among NYC children, according to an analysis by Feeding America.

As vaccine rollout continues and social distancing rules are eased, this was the first in-person event City Harvest has been able to host since the start of the pandemic. The décor was designed by Colin Cowie, featured live entertainment from On the Move, and a seasonal spring menu from Liz Neumark’s Great Performances.

“City Harvest has been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic, feeding more New Yorkers in need than ever before,” said City Harvest CEO Jilly Stephens. ”We are so grateful to our supporters and leaders who recommitted to our work at this incredibly important moment for our city.”

City Harvest is New York’s first and largest food rescue organization, helping to feed millions of New Yorkers who struggle to put meals on their tables. This year, they will rescue 153 million pounds of fresh food and deliver it—free of charge—to more than 400 food pantries, soup kitchens, community partners and their own Mobile Markets across the five boroughs. They  work alongside community partners to boost community capacity, expand nutrition education, and strengthen local food systems. For more than 35 years, City Harvest has always been there to feed our city—one day, one meal, one New Yorker at a time. To learn more, please visit

Kristen McMahon, Sandra Ripert, Shirley Madhere-Weil, Colin Cowie, Carola Jain, Lise Evans, and Chris Mack.
Michael Evans, Jilly Stephens, and Lise Evans.
L. to r.: Tracey Huff, Craig Huff, and Lise Evans; Francois-Xavier de Mallmann and Natasha de Mallmann.
Patrick and Kristen McMahon.

Photographs by ©Lori Cannava 2021

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