Entertaining at my farm is always so much fun, especially when I can add a theme to the evening’s menu.
Our special YPO event at my Bedford home, Cantitoe Corners, centered around a Spanish theme. Our main dish, prepared by my friend, Chef Pierre Schaedelin of PS Tailored Events, was Paella Royale which included seafood, chicken, pork, sausage and saffron. It was so delicious - everyone went back for seconds. Dessert was a delectable caramel flan and almond cake with fresh figs.
Before our feast, I hosted a special Facebook LIVE to show our social media audience how I prepare for a large party at my farm. My guests included our own Chairman of Sequential Brands Group, Bill Sweedler, who is also an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, Fairchester Gold chapter. It was a very busy day, but the weather was perfect, and our gathering was a huge success.
I always include a menu at all the parties I host at my farm – a simple card featuring the great sycamore tree that is the symbol of Cantitoe Corners.
Our tent provided by Greenwich Tent Company was all set, and the weather was absolutely perfect.
Before our guests arrived, I hosted a special Facebook LIVE to show some of our party preparations.
I showed our beautiful cornucopia of gourds squashes and pumpkins – a variety of cucurbits in different sizes, shapes and colors, all picked from my pumpkin patch.
Cathy Zambetti serves as the administrator for the YPO Fairchester Gold chapter, and helped to plan our event.
This is one of the tables, all set with a beautiful fall harvest centerpiece – the large pumpkins we used for the tables came from Jones Family Farms in Shelton, Connecticut. http://www.jonesfamilyfarms.com
We walked over to the cook shack, where all the food, and extra supplies are kept during the dinner service. Heather Kirkland orchestrates our special events – it is a lot of work to put these parties together!
Bill Sweedler, our Chairman of Sequential Brands Group, and the education chairperson for YPO, joined me for a portion of our Facebook LIVE. We watched Matt Parella, of Parella Events, as he made the party’s signature cocktails – classic margaritas and smokey palomas.
I showed my horse-drawn carriages. Here at Bedford, I have two – this one is a Brewster Wicker Phaeton. Also known as a Lady’s Wicker Phaeton, the low-slung body allowed easy access for women wearing long skirts. These “sporty” open carriages were popular in the late 18th – early 19th centuries.
As our guests arrived, they enjoyed a brief tour of my gardens before dinner, and then walked down the Boxwood Allee to my stable courtyard.
Here are Jennifer Forelli, Briggs Forelli, Tom Ryan and Doug Mellinger – some of the first guests to arrive at the tent.
This is Allen Kosowsky – his wife, Leonore, is in the background, and stopped to take a photo of my Friesians grazing in the paddock.
Ginny Day, Bill Nareski, and his wife Nancy
Louise Camuto, Chuck Berman and Alex Seaver
Richard Durben, Lance Lundberg and his wife, Terry.
Gary Johnson, Patrick Baugier, and Bill Drake
Gary and his wife, Barbara Johnson
Bonnie and Patrick Gilrane
Here I am with Doug, Bill, and Roger Shedlin.
Matt was ready at the bar to serve our drinks. We used Sombra Mezcal and Astral Tequila for our cocktails and we also served two Spanish wines, Rioja and Albarino.
My friend, Chef Pierre Schaedelin, of PS Tailored Events, had everything prepared for our paella. This is called “mise en place”, a French culinary phrase meaning to “put in place” everything that is required before cooking.
Here is Pierre checking that the grills are nice and hot before he starts cooking the paella.
Bill and I stopped for another quick snapshot before dinner.
Everything was prepared so timely and efficiently – it was so nice to see everyone having such a good time.
Carlos and Fernando were on hand to help with the party.
Here are Doug, Bill and Stew Leonard, Jr. Stew is the CEO of the Stew Leonard chain of dairy store supermarkets – we’ve been friends since I started my catering business in Westport, Connecticut.
Chef Pierre prepared the vegetables for the paella.
We used a large, 28-inch paella pan for our dish, and cooked it on a hardwood fire. The meats were cooked first, and the other ingredients were added, including onions, garlic, the seafood, and the vegetables.
The chicken stock and brandy were added, followed by the rice and of course, saffron. Saffron is the highly prized spice from the flower of Crocus sativus known for its color and flavor.
Sous chef, Aron, mixes the paella until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. We always use my recipe for classic paella – at this party, we just omitted the lobster. My recipe is on our web site. http://www.marthastewart.com/1161998/classic-paella-45
Because of the large number, we cooked several pans of paella at the same time. The smallest pan in the forefront was a Kosher version.
Guests enjoyed seeing the bar in my stable – it was the perfect set-up for the event.
Our guests sat for the first course.
It was a delicious roasted tomato soup, made with tomatoes picked from my garden. I roasted the tomatoes earlier in the day.
During dinner, Bill interviewed me – we discussed how my business has grown and evolved over the years, and then I answered a few questions from several YPO members.
Our Paella Royale was served with seafood, chicken, pork, sausage and saffron – everyone loved it!
Dessert was caramel flan and almond cake with fresh figs.
The evening lasted several hours, but we all had a wonderful time.