Annie Falk, Writer
Palm Beach Entertaining: Creating Occasions to Remember
I ran into Annie at a #TEAMAIME event for MWOY Palm Beach. I absolutely love Palm Beach Entertaining with its gorgeous photos, playful story telling, delicious event menus and inspiring tips and ideas from some of Palm Beach’s most luxurious hosts. Proceeds from the book benefit the Children’s Home Society of Florida, so it is also a wonderful opportunity to be fabulous for a cause.
How did you come up with the idea for Palm Beach Entertaining? What was the process of seeing this concept become a reality?
When I moved to Palm Beach, nearly 10 years ago, I was invited to The Ultimate Dinner Party, a by invitation only gathering; the Children’s Home Society of Florida’s annual fundraiser and variation on the progressive dinner party format. It was gracious entertaining at its finest! My husband and I so enjoyed the incredibly hospitality of the hosts and hostess and the aura of giving back that infused every aspect of the event that I agreed to chair the party the following year. I got to know CHS more intimately and have been volunteering for them ever since. A few years ago when the economy took a dive I wanted to do something that would bring more awareness to the incredible work that CHS does in Florida. What better way than to create a book that mirrored the experience of being a guest at the Ultimate Dinner Party and to give 100% of the net proceeds to CHS? Fortunately, my good friends Victoria Amory, Aime Dunstan and Daphne Nikolopoulos agreed to help. Then, our photographer, Jerry Rabinowitz joined the team and the journey began.
How did you choose the hosts and occasions to cover? Did you purposefully choose such eclectic functions / tastes or did that broad range naturally occur?
All of the hosts and hostesses were friends known to me or my co-authors. We were familiar with their entertaining style and wanted to capture their unique panache for hosting parties so we could share it with our readers. Entertaining is as unique and personal as dressing oneself and we encouraged our hosts and hostesses to stay true to their style. It was a wonderful surprise that we were presented with Moroccan themes, Asian dinners, asado’s and more. For people who entertain often theme parties are certainly on the agenda and we were thrilled to offer our readers inspiration.
What is your favorite table setting / menu featured in the book?
My favorite tablescape was created by Arnold Scaasi and Parker Ladd. Their table is in a Venetian inspired room, looking out into lush gardens. The setting is beautiful and the luxurious table cloth and beautiful Limoges china create an inviting scene. But, I’m most attracted to this tabletop design because I am really fond of mixing fine objects with fun things and I love when a host adds something from their collection to the table; like the two regal silver elephants with their trunks up (my personal mascots). The branches of bougainvillea from the garden placed at the elephants feet is a wonderful way of bringing the garden in. The table is both cozy and elegant and I found myself lingering long after dessert.
For a grand affair my favorite table setting is surely the gorgeous sea of tulips created by Hilary & Wilbur Ross. Everything in the room is white, quiet, and peaceful and the flowers take center stage; their amazing colors create excitement and drama. Hundreds of spring tulips from end to end, placed artfully on an acrylic table, once seated it feels like you’ve just been invited to spring!
There are so many great recipes in Palm Beach Entertaining, and my friends jokingly say I created the book in order to get hold of some of the best recipes in Palm Beach. My family and I love southern food so my favorite menu is the one created by Talbott Maxey and her mom, Kit Pannell. The tomato pudding is a family favorite and the pecan pie has made appearances on my Thanksgiving and Christmas tables. For entertaining friends, I love Hilary and Wilbur Ross’ menu. It is so thoughtfully put together, healthful with a decadent desert! Truly created with their guest’s well-being in mind.
What is the number one must-have for any gathering?
One of my favorite’s quotes from Palm Beach Entertaining is by yogini Connie Beaudoin, who says “a gathering is an act of love.” For me, that sums it all up! It isn’t about a magic formula but about the magic that happens when people “make space for each other.”
I had a friend over last season and she was going through a difficult time. It was just the two of us and I wanted to cheer her up. I set a bright yellow table in my bamboo garden and made all of her favorite foods and chilled some lovely champagne. I remember smiling the entire time I was preparing lunch and setting the table. It was one of the most meaningful gatherings I hosted last year because I know how much it meant to my friend. I was so happy to be able to create a few hours of pleasure for her during a very difficult time.
The book has a strong tie to Children’s Home Society of Florida. How did that partnership come about?
As I mentioned earlier, the partnership started with an invitation to the Ultimate dinner party. Then, when I was asked to chair the event I got to know CHS better by visiting their facilities and chatting with some of the families they have helped. When I toured the transitions home for teen moms and their babies I was so inspired that helping CHS became my passion. This program truly breaks the cycle of abuse and neglect that can plague families for generations. The girls in the transitions home share in household responsibilities, like cooking, doing the dishes, and caring for their babies. They are coached through challenging times and taught to safely, appropriately and positively care for their children. The girls attend school and work, and achieve goals that allow them to become healthy, self-sufficient families when they leave Transitions Home. I want to be sure this program is available for all who need it and hope that Palm Beach Entertaining will continue to bring more awareness to the wonderful work of CHS.
Any advice for local aspiring writers? or hostesses?
Follow your heart, remain true to who you are and let passion be your guide.
A final thought…
As you know, my co-authors and I are working on a second book, Hamptons Entertaining, and I am absolutely thrilled and inspired by the variety of party styles and recipes we’ve documented so far. It is set in the Hamptons, a string of fashionable summer resorts on the South Fork of Long Island, beginning with manicured old Southampton and ending at the rocky cliffs of Montauk Point. Known as a glamorous summer community it is surrounded by water; the Atlantic Ocean on the south, Peconic Bay and Gardiner’s Bay on the north. There is plenty of coastal inspired fare, presented in amazingly creative and uniquely personal ways, but much like Palm Beach Entertaining there is also a variety of ethnic food, unique themes, healthful menus and plenty of recipes for more extravagant events. It has been an absolute joy working on this project and the proceeds will benefit the Peconic Baykeeper.
To order a copy of Palm Beach Entertaining, visit:
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