East End eventeur Mary Giuliani finds inspiration for a new entertaining book from her grandmother’s Montauk parties.
“Every June, while my school friends went to summer camp, I went to Grandma Lucille’s hotel in Montauk,” caterer Mary Giuliani says of her visits to the Wavecrest Resort. It was there that a then-9-year-old Giuliani hid under cocktail tables laden with trays of deviled eggs and martinis to peek at her grandmother’s vibrant parties.
It’s no surprise, then, that Giuliani’s frst book, set to debut in October, is called The Cocktail Party: Eat Drink Play Recover. “I watched her orchestrate the perfect mix of food, drink, and people,” says Giuliani.
A short-lived acting career and a growing pile of bills led Giuliani to a job as a catering sales representative at DM Cuisine. “I came to the conclusion that Robert De Niro would never hand me an Oscar, but I could hand him a tray of crab cakes,” she jokes. Then in 2005, she and her husband, Ryan, launched Mary Giuliani Catering & Events.
As the caterer for such prestigious events as Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld’s annual Hamptons fête for Baby Buggy, Giuliani obviously cooks delicious food, but she insists she is no chef. “I make comfort food, the kind of bites that make people happy and nostalgic,” she says. Her inspiration remains Italian, a direct link to her Sicilian grandfather and to Mario Batali, with whom she has teamed for a Mario by Mary catering collaboration. But what sets Giuliani apart is her love of theatrics. “My catering company acts as an event producer,” she says. “We love movie premieres and product launches.”
In her book, which is divided into four sections (Eat, Drink, Play, and Recover), Giuliani proposes a sprinkling of whimsical small bites, such as arancini carbonara, mini grilled cheese with truffe honey, “macos” (mac ’n’ cheese tacos), and Champagne Jell-O. Her drinks are fun.… Ever heard of Tipsy Turkey martinis? She also encourages hosts to “play”—with dishes, glasses, themes, and even the location. “I once threw a party at the bottom of an empty pool,” Giuliani says. “Another time, I decided to hide the dining table in the woods and asked the guests to go fnd it.”
Finally, the Recover section is full of anecdotes and tips: Seis de Mayo hangover kit, anyone? 135 W. 20th St., 6th Fl., NYC, 212-725-1658