- In the evening on Saturday, June 6, The East Hampton Historical Society
held its third annual new members cocktail party and fundraiser hosted by Ina Garten
at her East Hampton home; a property which incidentally has a fair amount of history behind it.
Throughout the evening Ina Garten played the role of the consummate hostess, warmly chatting with friends and fans of her culinary talents.
"This property used to be part of Mulford Farm
so I'm literally the second owner, the Mulfords were the original owners from 1640 until I bought it 15 years ago," Garten recounted during the event. "Historically there used to be a barn here, so when I built the second house two years ago I always knew that it had to be some kind of barn. I actually tried to find the original barn, but they had moved it to Bridgehampton, so by the time I found it - it had fallen down - so that was that."
According to Joseph Aversano
, one of the Trustees of the Historical Society and co-chair of the Membership Committee, along with Peggy Sherrill
, the event served two purposes that night: to raise funds needed by the Historical Society to maintain the seven historic structures and museums they steward and as a welcome to the society's newest members.
"We've had these parties for three years and we've gone from about 200 members to almost 1,000 members in a very short time," said Aversano. "Twice before we had the party at Grey Gardens before it became hot in the news due to the play and all that stuff, so for a change of venue we called up Ina back in January and asked if she would consider doing a party, and of course back then it was very easy to say yes, and she did - so here we are. After this party we'll pick up about another 156 new members. We were so thrilled when Ina agreed to host this party," he beamed. "This is the first event we've done with her through the Historical Society and I must say she has been very gracious throughout the whole process."
While the event wasn't catered by Garten herself, she brought Brent Newsom on board to handle the food although she admitted that the food "was based on a lot of her recipes."
When Garten was approached by her friend and Historical Society Trustee Frank Newbold
and asked if she would be interested in hosting the event, she quickly agreed because of the important work she feels the Historical Society does in preserving the unique history of the town. "My friend Frank Newbold asked if I could do an event for the East Hampton Historical Society and I always say yes to that because I think what separates East Hampton from any other town is the history here," Garten explained.
"When you drive into town and you make the left at the pond, everybody has that first experience and it's just so beautiful and so historic and it's so grounded; it's not just a new town that just sprung up, it's really grounded in history with Mulford Farm on the left and all the other buildings that the Historical Society maintains. I just think it really separates East Hampton from other towns, plus people really have a sense of the history here and it's important so I'm happy to do anything I can to make people aware of it."
While this event might have been the first one that she's hosted, it certainly isn't the first time she's been involved with the Historical Society. "I've been a member from time to time but I don't always have time to come to the meetings but I'm always available to do events for them," said Garten and although she didn't cater the event herself, she was directly involved on a couple of levels. "Brent Newsom
did the food but it's based on a lot of my recipes," she admitted modestly.
East Hampton Historical Society Executive Director Richard Barrons with Trustee and Co-Chair of the Membership Committee Joseph Aversano.
Garten's first encounter with the history here in the Hamptons began with a serendipitous encounter with an ad in The New York Times
while she was working in Washington, D.C. "I came from Washington. I was working in the White House on Nuclear Energy Policy and I decided I needed to do something fun and I saw an ad for a business for sale in The New York Times
and it was a specialty food store in the Hamptons, and my husband Jeffery
said 'let's go look at it,' she recalled. "We drove up to Westhampton, I saw the store, it was like 400 square feet, and I thought 'this was what I want to do' so I bought the store and that was the beginning of my food business. The first store I had was in Westhampton in 1978 and I moved it to East Hampton in 1985. The rest is pretty much history."
As for what the future holds in store for Garten, she mentioned a few projects that she'll be working on this summer from a new cookbook to expanding her brand of culinary items. "I'm working on another book called "How Easy Is That," which is something I say in my show. It's going to be about easy recipes and I'm also working on my line of pantry projects and baking mixes with Frank Newbold." On top of that she'll also be enjoying her time out East, although she did say that her passion for her work makes it easy for her to enjoy herself. "And I'll be enjoying the summer of course in between," she smiled, "but I really enjoy what I do so I don't consider it work really."