Working Women!

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Friday, December 3, 2021. Temps in the high 50s yesterday in New York, overcast with some rain here and there (not here) in the forecast, dropping back down into the low 40s at night.

Working women. I grew up with a mother who had to work. She had an amazing amount of energy as I look back, because aside from her jobs (all kitchen and restaurant oriented — and labor), she cooked all our meals (French toast for breakfast sometimes); cleaned and straitened up the house; kept a very large vegetable garden (plus a smaller but blossoming flower garden) from which she fed us; and preserved the rest for the winter months.

Tillie had “retired” in her mid-sixties, living on her Social Security but she missed the habit of going out into the world every day. She got a job looking after the daily life of a retired judge, She loved it, loved hearing about the world he was part of, and so she worked until her late 70s.

She also knitted, sewed, and was always “decorating” her house (my father had to help her with the wallpapering jobs and painting the old floors); and she read to me at night before bed before I could read. She also kept two books at her bedside – which as an obnoxious kid I made fun of (but she always laughed): Rev. Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking and Gayelord Hauser’s Look Younger, Live Longer — which, from what I could gather without being curious, was about diet. I later realized these books were also her shrink.

As a kid I never gave her long workdays a second thought. Except in the mid-20th century most mothers in the neighborhood were housewives (and often with domestic assistance, cleaning ladies, etc.) or nurses or teachers. Those two were jobs that tipped the women with a professional distinction. My father wasn’t much help as he was either napping or angry (especially when she asked him to pitch in helping her with something), or at his job. Nor did it occur to this kid that her average day must have been a lotta work. So when reading to me those bedtime stories where she’d often close by saying her voice was getting hoarse, I was always puzzled because it wasn’t. It never occurred to this four year old that she was probably exhausted.

Now that was long ago, and there were also other factors involved in my growing up experience, having to do with my father. My mother had to work to keep the food on the table and clothes on our back, not to mention the roof over our heads. I don’t remember her ever complaining about all she had to do everyday. I think her generation — which came of age during the Great Depression — was inured to that reality: need.

This all came back to me a couple of weeks ago when I had lunch with Sara Gore whom I met through her husband Matthew Miele, a documentary filmmaker whom we’ve been working with. Matt told me his wife was on television. I was curious and unaware of her partly because I never turn on the TV (I’ve got enough to look at right here at putting together a Diary five days a week). So when I heard about Sara’s “career,” I asked if I could interview her.

I first learned how busy she was when I was setting up a lunch date. One-thirty or two p.m. were best for her. Since I’d never seen her on TV, I had no idea what she even looked like.

Sara Gore over lunch at Sette Mezzo.

I’d assumed she was good looking and well turned out like any hostess on camera. So I wasn’t surprised when we finally met on a warm day at Sette Mezzo where we had a nice table right outside on the sidewalk (“feels like Paris” to some who love Paris).

Naturally, I asked her what she did. Whoa!! what doesn’t she do! was my thought as she began. This young woman, mother of three — two boys and a girl — works!

Her daily schedule: Besides her daily job as co-host of New York Live, NBC along with sister station NBC 10 — Boston’s The Hub Today, she is also host of the nationally syndicated real estate and design show Open House. She also serves as host for NBC’s 1st Look “Live on the Red Carpet.”

I learned all this when we sat down to lunch when I asked what she did on TV. Duh! I was impressed simply by the amount of time required to fill all of those obligations. And there at lunch after a day’s working, she was as fresh as if she’d just begun her day.

She has also always liked to cook, since she was young girl living with her parents and family in upstate New York. This is another asset besides a pleasure. After high school, she also was an actress when she came to New York to study drama as well as attend college. During that time she also worked as a line cook for Jean-Georges Vongerichten. After her college and drama classes, she moved to Los Angeles to work on camera out there. At that time she also had a job working as a chef privately, running her own catering company as well as working in commercials, and auditioning for theatre roles.

L. to r.: Sara with an art deco-themed cake she baked for her husband; And a birthday cake  she made for the boys.

I couldn’t help thinking of my mother. Even she would have been agog at what a young woman does on a daily basis. I asked Sara to give me a rundown of her schedule:

She gets up at 5:45 and first works out; treadmill and Pilates class which she does in the mirror with a recording. Shower at 7, cuppa fresh coffee from the machine in the bedroom. She catches an 8:30 train to the city and is at her office at 9:30. There she does her make up and goes over that day’s show with producers, going over what they’re going to talk about at the top of the show. At 10 she changes; at 10:30 she gets her hair done. At 11:17 she gets the news and then at 11:30 it’s On the Air. The program as she described it to me was “a mix of all things New York — restaurants, culture, celebrity interviews, books, a restaurant piece, a couple of interviews, a slice of New York everyday.”

Sara on the set of Recipe Revamp — which she received an Emmy nomination for where she recreated complicated dishes of renowned chefs for home cooks.

Then: Show over, she tapes a “tease” for the next day, some days she has to do a Zoom interview.  She then leaves the studio and goes to an open house location to shoot her other show (every week it’s at a townhouse). With another team by 1 or 1:30 she shoots the “lead” for Open House — real estate and design show which has been running for 14 years on NBC Sunday mornings.

She also, because of her long experience on Open House, decided to get a real estate license and started working for Ryan Serhant’s new firm, SERHANT, and closed on her first listing that day that we met for lunch (West Village listing, 3 bed, 3 1/2 bath, last asking $9.999)

Sara in one of the multi-million dollar apartments often featured on Open House.

After that she takes the train home, usually home by 4; and cooks the dinner for the family, for 5:30 p.m. Then by 7:30 it’s bedtime for their daughter, and 8:30, the two boys. Usually in bed by 10, lights out at 10:30.

I learned all of this sitting at table over lunch at Sette. Besides being astounded by her output, all I could think as she was talking was “SHE WORKS! EVERYDAY!! And loves it!” She’s blessed.

More blessings for the working woman. Flora Collins, daughter of her working mother — journalist/author Amy Fine Collins — has launched her debut novel, a domestic thriller Nanny Dearest, (MIRA/imprint of HarperCollins). Last Tuesday night, Mother Amy and Stacey Bendet hosted a party for Flora at the Manhattan fashion boutique alice + olivia where co-hostess Stacey is CEO and Creative Director.

Flora at signing table. Click to order Nanny Dearest.

Actress/author Jill Kargman led a conversation with Flora who also signed copies of Nanny Dearest in the glitzy room full of well-wishers. Vogue declared the book an “accomplished thriller debut; along with Publisher Weekly’s “well-crafted debut.”

It’s the chilling story of a young woman who takes comfort in reconnecting with her childhood nanny until she starts to uncover terrifying secrets the nanny has been hiding for 20 years. This is the first of a two-book deal for the authoress. The Hollywood Reporter has just featured NANNY DEAREST, announcing WME has made the rights available for film and television interest.

Amy Fine Collins, with daughter and debut novelist Flora Collins, alice + olivia’s Stacey Bendet, and  Jill Kargman.
Adriana Trigiani and Flora Collins.
Harold Koda, Alan Kornberg, and Dr. Gerald Imber.
Amy Fine Collins and Robert Rufino.

More working women working. Same day, Tuesday, November 30th, our friend Emily Evans Eerdmans “opened the season” at her gallery on 10th Street with a festive, sparkling champagne punch reception to launch her 5th annual Holiday Bazaar.

Bead-lights on palm fronds swayed to the dazzling jazz trio of Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra. Guests enjoyed glittering garlands, candlelit photophores, and an unconventional upside-down Christmas tree.

A sumptuous sampling of hand-made and one-of-a-kind offerings by Tug Rice, Abbie Zabar, Janie Kruse Garnett, Thomas Engelhart, and Thomas Eckhart, among others, were displayed in Eerdmans’ Greenwich Village landmarked townhouse.

Among the guests: Bruce Addison, Raymon Boozer, Stephanie Stokes, Michael Diaz-Griffith, Christopher Spitzmiller, Wendy Moonan, William Bates, Deborah Webster, Anne Hardy, Wendy Goodman, David Sprouls, Marcy Masterson, William Cullum, Madeline O’Malley, Steven Knorsch, Chuck Pollard, Rufus Chen, and Antoinette Deluca.

L. to r.: Emily Eerdmans with Pompey; Madeline O’Malley and Dayle Wood.
Abbie Zabar and Rob Stanford.
Bruce Addison, Andrew Young, and Jimmy Tiberg.
Cass Retz, Keith Carroll, and Rayman Boozer.
L. to r.: Wendy Moonan and Stephanie Stokes; Anne Hardy and Imogen Pritchard.
Kate Newman and Owen Holmes.
Michael Henry Adams, Michael Diaz-Griffith, and Wendy Goodman.
Thomas Engelhart, Chris Spitzmiller, and Frank Futia.

More women working; some working men, too. After an 18-month Covid break Vanessa Noel celebrated the reopening of her salon with a trunk show for Prince Dimitri Jewelry and Joe Pacetti jewels.

In the front room, Prince Dimitri personally autographed his wonderful new book, Once Upon a Diamond, his fascinating history of royal jewels including many that belonged to his relatives and ancestors when they ruled much of the world. Meanwhile Dimitri’s friends and customers picked up cufflinks, pendants and bracelets, which seems to be the new hot stocking stuffer for Christmas gifts.

Prince Dimitri.
Dmitri’s yummy rings and pendants.
Dimitri’s stones for leather bracelets.

In the back room Joe Pacetti  (“Diamond Joe”) set up a treasure trove of coveted signed estate jewelry and newly designed, jaw dropping gems. Women waited their turn to get into the room with the gems while trying on Vanessa Noel shoes and bags.

Susan Gutfreund waiting her turn.
Browsing Vanessa Noel shoes while waiting to try on J. Pacetti Jewels.

After a successful day of Christmas shopping, hostess Vanessa delighted everyone with a homemade Turkey potpie dinner. A toast was made: “Good food, great friends, fine jewels and Vanessa Noel shoes are all the luxuries you need in life.”

Clockwise from bottom left: Mark Rosen, Peter Bacanovic, Mark Dorfman, Arnold Pacetti, Tom Sackler, and Joe Pacetti.

Ben Asen Photography (Nanny Dearest); Patrick McMullan (Eerdmans). 

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