Join us as we dish 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 such a gracious party host. Her mother was socialite and fashion icon C. Z. Guest, one of Truman Capote’s original swans. Her father, an heir to the Phipps steel fortune, was a dashing polo champion, Winston Churchill’s cousin, and one of Ernest Hemingway’s best pals. Cornelia’s godparents were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Baron Alexis de Redé, who was once named “the best party host in Europe.” As a teenager, Cornelia learned the velvet party ropes by joining family friends Halston, Andy Warhol, and Franceso Scavullo at hot spots across Manhattan. Today, Cornelia, who is the author of two books, runs a cruelty-free style empire that includes an event company, a vegan cookie collection, and a line of animal-free handbags. Grab a glass of Perrier-Jouët Blason Brut Rosé —Cornelia’s giggle water of choice—and listen in as we welcome one of our favorite “guests” to the salon.
Describe your entertaining style?
Classic with a twist.
What are your three top party must-haves?
Great food, wine and friends!
And 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.
What is the biggest lesson you learned from your mother about entertaining?
And your father?
Cornelia, left, at a Vanity Fair Oscar Party with Olivia Wilde, Maria Bello and Vanessa Getty
What’s the most memorable party you attended?
Valentino’s anniversary party in Rome several years ago.
Who is the most fascinating person you have ever met at a party?
Who are your dream dinner partners?
Winston Churchill and Michael Jordan
Cornelia with designer Halston and model Cheryl Tiegs in the 80s
What party do 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
What are the best conversation pieces in your home?
My donkey Madonna and my dogs.
What is the most treasured entertaining item given to you by your mother?
Sets of old plates.
What is your most treasured thank-you note?
A note from my father thanking me for a water-color I made for him…so sweet.
Cornelia’s parents (right) with Mary and Ernest Hemingway
What is your go-to fall dinner party dish?
Shepherd’s Pie (see Cornelia’s recipe below)
You have a birthday coming up next month. What will you wish for when you blow out your birthday candles?
That people become educated about the plight of animals and make changes in their lives to help animals all over the world.
Playing Favorites with Cornelia Guest
Favorite colors? White and silver
Favorite flower? Gardenia
Favorite party drink? Rosé champagne
Favorite champagne? Perrier-Jouët Blason Brut Rosé
Favorite food? Raw chocolate
Favorite dinnerware? CE 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? Dr. Bronner’s and Kiehl’s
Favorite party dress designer? Oscar de La Renta
Favorite source for party items? Thrift stores
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, The New York Observer, Getty