Summertime on the East End is all about entertaining. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the calendar gets booked quickly with gatherings for friends, family and business connections coming over for an al fresco dinner or even the weekend. From an old-fashioned barbecue to more formal soireés, weekend house guests to those who stay longer, we asked our panel of real estate agents what is their key ingredient to successful summertime entertaining.
Judi Desiderio, Town & Country Real Estate
“My husband and I enjoy having family and friends to our home all year long but particularly during the summer season. We live on Gardiner’s Bay with sweeping views of Gardiner’s Island straight across to Connecticut. We enjoy taking sunset cruises with our guests or boating to Shelter Island or the North Fork. They have such amazing restaurants within walking distance to the dock. Being married to a fisherman, we get to enjoy fresh fish all season long—fish tacos, poached in puttanesca with my garden tomatoes, bouillabaisse—so many recipes, not enough time. Theme cocktails by the pool and paddleboarding when the wind dies down. We believe exceptional food is a key component to a successful soirée. Good friends and interesting conversation help to make for a fun event, but in the summertime, we leave much up to mother nature. Weather is the icing on a beautiful dessert.”
Cindy Scholz, Compass
“The East End is made for entertaining. In my view, there are a few critical components to entertaining well. First, you must curate your guests and be sure you’re bringing the right people together for a weekend. Then provide guests with a loose outline of the weekend, so they know how to pack. Upon arrival, I have welcome packages on the beds, complete with beach towels, water, books and whatever else the guests may need that weekend. The best weekends start with a mediation followed by a boat day and a lovely family-style dinner. We are fortunate to have the best ingredients at our fingertips in the Hamptons. A beautiful tablescape is a must to set the tone for dinner. If entertaining a large dinner party, I will often throw out an ice breaker question to get all the guests acquainted and separate couples. It is nice to allow guests to have some downtime and flexibility. If the town is not walkable, I suggest having bikes for guests to use. I do think connectivity and curation of guests is the most crucial ingredient to a successful hosting experience.”
Martha Gundersen, Douglas Elliman Real Estate
“Summer entertainment definitely starts with a beautiful, light-filled house to set the mood, but buyers now are really putting a premium on outdoor amenities that encourage gathering, recreation and fun. People want to wow their guests with pools, tennis and outdoor kitchens with barbecues. What’s more is a place outdoors to relax or dine that is covered and overlooking (if you are lucky enough) a water view or beautiful agricultural reserve. And, of course, one of the most popular must-haves to emerge from COVID is an open fire pit. When I am entertaining in the summer, I always love to set the table with fresh flowers, beautiful dishware and linen napkins. I enjoy treating guests to local Hamptons fare, whether it’s picking up fresh vegetables and fruit from one of the nearby farm stands, or the fresh catch of the day from Gosman’s Dock. Seared tuna and swordfish are my favorites for a peaceful summer dinner at home with friends and family.”
Patricia Garrity, Corcoran
Summer entertaining is one of my favorite things because our guests can enjoy what makes the Hamptons so very special—gorgeous open skies and natural surroundings. When dining, I pile on fresh local vegetables from our farm stands and gorgeous fresh flowers combined with comfortable seating. We get the grill fired up, music in the background and turn up the heat on the pool. For the guests who stay longer I find it is so welcoming if one has a comfortable bed made with crisp linens, lots of fresh towels, books by the bed and a bit of private space with a flexible schedule or no schedule at all. Whenever I can I bring together old and new friends for great conversation, big smiles and warm hugs all around … beautiful memories for a long time to come.
Timothy C. Burch, Brown Harris Stevens
“For my husband and me, the key to successful summertime entertaining at our home in East Hampton is making our guests feel a little spoiled during their stay while discovering the uniqueness of the Hamptons. Friday is typically dinner out on the town at Almond in Bridgehampton, Fresno in East Hampton or Wölffer Kitchen in Amagansett. A great Saturday morning activity is visiting local unique Hamptons farm stands and specialty stores to pick up fresh creative ingredients for the evening’s dinner (courtesy of my husband, I don’t cook). Other guest favorites include sunsets on Long Beach in Sag Harbor with a great bottle or two of Champagne, lunch at Duryea’s Dock in Montauk, or simply relaxing by the pool soaking up the sun while I whip up my famous frozen concoctions such as raspberry lemonades (vodka included). Sunday is always a fun brunch at home with mimosas while we recap the laughs of the entire weekend, then back to the pool to chill. In the end, it’s about spending quality time with the people you care most about, and showing them all that we have to offer in our backyard here in the Hamptons.”
Therese F. Zuhoski, NOFO Real Estate
“As a full time realtor on the East End and constantly on the go, I do look forward to the start of summertime and entertaining. One of the many things I appreciate is being able to spend time with family and friends relaxing at home and swimming in the pool. Summertime proves to be busy because everyone wants to come “out east.” When entertaining, my favorite summer spread consists of charcuterie with meats and cheese from The Village Cheese Shop on Love Lane in Mattituck, paired with local wines. My go-to is anything from Roanoke Vineyards. Of course farm-to-table grilling with local produce and seafood makes for a great time, too! As I tell all of my real estate clients, the fun doesn’t stop there … there is so much to do and see on the East End—from live music found at any vineyard or microbrewery and being able to relax at many of our local beaches or boating. One of my favorite spots is Waypoint in Southold for fine food and great cocktails on the beautiful Peconic Bay. Entertaining is seamless when the destination is the East End. Truly the best key ingredient to any entertaining is enjoying the company you keep.”
Deborah Srb, Sotheby’s International Realty
“Essential to any successful summer soirée would be to make sure the food is plentiful and the bar is well stocked, especially with tequila— my favorite. Then it’s a toss-up between beachside entertaining or my own backyard. The abundant offering of local produce and seafood are the foundation. A beautiful table setting and good music then sets the tone, so everyone feels relaxed the minute they join in on the fun. With my art background, I always find it fun and a challenge to create a unique table setting while nature’s bounty usually provides the best tablescape with fresh cut flowers and seashells. Props are fun too! Last year I passed out hats (all mine) that provided good laughs and photo ops. Good lighting and music are key as well. No matter how big or small, a good party is when guests can’t stay in their seats and must dance.”
This article was featured on the cover of the August issue of Behind The Hedges. Read the digital version here.