Doll, come on in. We’re dishing with party royalty – entertaining guru, entrepreneur and animal rights advocate, Cornelia Guest. It’s no surprise that the compassionate and comely Cornelia is known as one of the world’s great party hosts. Her mother was fashion icon, C. Z Guest, who was one of Truman Capote’s original swans along with Babe Paley and Slim Keith. Her father, Winston, an heir to the Phipps steel fortune, was a dashing polo champion who also happened to be Winston Churchill’s cousin and one of Ernest Hemingway’s best pals. Cornelia’s godparents were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the fabulous aesthete, Baron Alexis de Redé, who was once named “the best party host in Europe.” Stateside, a teenage Cornelia learned the velvet party ropes by joining family friends like Halston, Andy Warhol and Franceso Scavullo at New York hot spots Studio 54, Régine’s and Xenon. Today, Cornelia, the author of two books, runs a cruelty-free style empire that includes an event company with clients like Donna Karan, Bulgari and Estée Lauder, a vegan cookie collection and line of animal-free handbags. As if that weren’t enough, she and Project Gravitas, the socially-conscious fashion brand, have just launched a collection of party-ready, cruelty-free leather jackets that are as chic as they are kind. We’ve just popped the cork on a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Blason Brut Rosé – our gal’s favorite party drink – so grab a glass and listen in as we welcome one of our favorite guests, Cornelia. She’s even sharing her famous Shepherd’s Pie recipe.
Your entertaining style?
Classic with a twist.
Last party you hosted?
Sunday lunch at home for a few friends.
Last party you attended?
A friend’s dinner for our pal, Hamish Bowles.
How will you celebrate Thanksgiving?
In Rome with some great friends.
Most memorable party you attended?
Valentino’s anniversary party in Rome a few years ago.
Most fascinating person you met at a party?
Dream dinner partners?
Winston Churchill and Michael Jordan
Party you wish you could go back in time to attend?
Truman Capote’s Black & White ball and any party in Paris thrown by my godfather, Baron Alexis de Redé
Best conversation piece in your home?
My donkey, Madonna, and dogs.
Most treasured thank you note?
From my father thanking me for a water-color I made for him…so sweet.
One of Cornelia’s favorite photographs of her mother, C.Z. Guest
What did you learn from your mother about entertaining?
Cornelia sitting at her desk beneath a portrait of her father
And your father?
Most treasured entertaining piece given to you by your mother?
Your go-to fall dinner party dish?
Shepherd’s Pie (see Cornelia’s recipe below)
Cornelia designed the flowers and catered the party launching the book, Fashionably Selby
You know you’re at a Cornelia Guest Events party when…
The food is delicious and the staff is gorgeous!
Greatest Cornelia Guest Events triumph?
A dinner for 300 at the New York Armory
Let’s play favorites:
Favorite color? White and silver
Favorite flower? Gardenia
Favorite cocktail? Rosé champagne
Favorite champagne? Perrier-Jouët Blason Brut Rosé
Favorite food? Raw chocolate
These Portugese made, ceramic plates from C.E. Corey speak to Cornelia’s love of animals
Favorite dishware? C.E. Corey
Favorite glassware? Old ones
Favorite linens? My grandmother’s old napkins
Cornelia keeps a colorful bottle of Dr. Bronner’s cruelty-free soap in her powder room
Favorite guest room hand soap? Bronner and Kiehl’s
Favorite party dress designer? Oscar de La Renta
Favorite source for party items? Thrift stores
Your three biggest party pet-peeves?
Late guests, people who move place cards and people who get up from the table to smoke. I always have ashtrays and cigarettes on the table.
Cornelia, left, at a Vanity Fair Oscar Party with Olivia Wilde, Maria Bello and Vanessa Getty
Your three most important party must-haves?
Great food, wine and friends!
You have a birthday coming up next month. What will you wish for when you blow out your birthday candles?
That The Cruelty Free World of Cornelia Guest becomes a global success and people become educated about the plight of animals and make changes in their lives to help animals all over the world.
Cornelia Guest’s Shepherd’s Pie
Total time: 2 hours
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 large onion
2 large carrots
2 celery stalks
1 pound favorite mushrooms
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 leeks cut into 1-inch pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup canned or fresh vegetable stock
2 pounds cubed seitan
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (10 ounce) box frozen peas or 1-1/2 cups of fresh peas, cooked
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Peel potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until ready for mashing, approximately 30 minutes.
- Coarsely dice onion, carrots and celery separately.
- Remove stems from mushrooms
- If you are making your own stock, take the onion, carrot and celery trimmings and mushroom stems, add a quart of water, bring to a boil and simmer down to a cup, approx. 45 minutes. Stain before using.
- Lay mushrooms and carrots on a baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes
- Lay onion, celery and leeks on another baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or when they are fork-tender.
- Reserve a cup of the water the spuds were cooked in.
- Mash the potatoes and add ¼ cup olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and pepper and the reserved water.
- Combine the stock, seitan and diced tomatoes in a 4-quart saucepot and let simmer for 45 minutes.
- Add the cooked peas and roasted vegetables during the last 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a 10 x 14 inch casserole dish and cover with a 1-1/2 inch layer of mashed potatoes.
- Roast in the top rack of the over for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Put the casserole under the broiler for a few minutes to brown.
Photo credits: Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Vogue, Matchbook Magazine, Vanity Fair
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