When an invitation arrives from Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s “modern lifestyle brand,” offering a trip to the Hamptons with an intimate dinner prepared by a three-starred Michelin chef — all for a good cause — well, it’s tempting to say, “Yes, please.”
We needed no more convincing after learning that the exclusive Road to Table event, part of a series put together with Cadillac, would feature a handcrafted menu by Christopher Kostow, the renowned executive chef at the Andrew Harper-recommended Meadowood Napa Valley. We RSVP’d and looked forward to how a day at an organic farm followed by a private dinner would unfold — especially after they asked for our shoe size.
At 9:30 a.m., a 2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-in was delivered to our downtown Manhattan hotel, The Beekman, and after a brief orientation where we learned the car has its own Wi-Fi hotspot and touchscreen navigation system, we enjoyed a pleasant two-and-a-half-hour drive to Amber Waves Farm on the far eastern end of Long Island. (The driver’s seat suddenly vibrates anytime the car gets too close to another vehicle. That part wasn’t in the orientation and was initially quite alarming!)
On the backseat was a boxed lunch and a swag bag from co-sponsor FEED, an organization founded by Lauren Bush Lauren (niece of George W. Bush) that helps feed the hungry.
While the Hamptons is known for its party atmosphere in the summer, the crowds thin after Labor Day and one can see beyond the traffic to appreciate what really draws visitors from beyond the New York metro area: chic boutiques and restaurants along East Hampton's main street, vineyards off Montauk Highway, myriad roadside farms and fields upon fields of pumpkin patches and corn mazes.
Upon arriving at the eight-acre organic farm, we were given Hunter boots (shoe mystery solved!), sun hats and gardening tools and urged to head to the fields to gather flowers, herbs and vegetables and collect eggs from the henhouse. Along with about 30 other people, we picked sweet yellow cherry tomatoes, tried spicy edible flowers and enjoyed homemade sodas under the afternoon sun. With fashionable women in long, flowing dresses and flouncy hats, it looked right out of a painting — and was perfectly Goop. As the day’s harvest was bundled for us to take home, Lauren and chef Kostow welcomed us.
After enjoying our day on the farm, it was time to drive back to East Hampton, to a Cape Cod-style home on a private cul-de-sac that would be the site of our communal backyard dinner. As people filed in, twinkly lights came on and live music softly played. We sipped Wölffer Estate rosé and strawberry-infused cocktails and mingled with the other guests, who included Margaret Zakarian (wife of restaurateur and “Iron Chef” Geoffrey Zakarian), model Leilani Bishop, former InStyle fashion editor and Glow co-founder Violet Gaynor, and Maurice Owens, former special assistant to a White House chief of staff and now of Libra Group.
Before dinner was served, Lauren, who has seen hunger firsthand as a World Food Programme honorary spokesperson, addressed the crowd and reminded us of the inspiring reason we were there: to raise money for her foundation’s cause. FEED works with local artisans in Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kenya, El Salvador and Peru to create smart tote bags and tees. A portion of the proceeds go back to those communities and help fund meals or provide micronutrient packs for those in need there.
With that, chef Kostow’s extensive menu began arriving: grilled cucumbers with sea beans and dill; raw shellfish; a salad of charred avocado; lettuce from Amber Waves Farm; grilled corn with butter and dried yeast; beef ribs grilled over Cabernet barrels; and a peach mochi cake for dessert. Wine flowed, and the evening ended with a Black Apple Manhattan and a chauffeured drive back to New York City.
Our September soiree was the second to last of the year. On October 28 and 29, chef Kostow will join Goop again for its final Road to Table event, this one in Napa Valley. Tickets are $1,300 per couple and will include a one-of-a-kind wine-blending experience led by a top winemaker, Paltrow and Kostow. A portion of the proceeds will support Napa Valley CanDo’s Napa Food Project, which facilitates food donations year-round for those in need. If you are interested, learn more about the next Road to Table here.