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Sharing Stories Of The Rich And Infamous At OSO

Originally Posted: February 11, 2009

Edward Callaghan

Dan Rattiner recalled his tall tales for a spirited turnout at the first OSO "Dinner And..." program held at the Southampton Inn. Photos by John Wegorzewski

Southampton - To most people when you mention 'The Hamptons,' images of magnificent oceanfront mansions, fabulous pools and lavish parties peopled by boldfaced names from magazine covers are the first images that pop into one's mind.

But the tiny villages and hamlets that make up the The Hamptons are an all-year-round concern with a rich and vibrant cultural life that carries on long after the media spotlight fades on Labor Day.

Dede Gotthelf, owner of The Southampton Inn, decided to tap into this vast pool of interesting folks and put together a chance for them all to meet. The Inn's new critically acclaimed restaurant, OSO, launched a winter program entitled, "Dinner And ..." featuring informal conversations to be conducted over an elegant evening at dinner with notables that define Hamptons culture.

To kick-off the program, Gotthelf invited legendary Hamptons' chronicler Dan Rattiner to read from his best-selling book, "In The Hamptons: My 50 Years with Farmers, Fisherman, Billionaires and Celebrities."

Long before the Hamptons became famous for its posh parties, paparazzi, and glitterati; the farming and fishing villages attracted literary luminaries and more than a few local eccentrics. As the founder and former publisher of Dan's Papers, Dan Rattiner, has been brandishing his unique accounts of life on the East End, commenting on everything from daily triumphs, community intrigue, and larger-than-life personalities for the past 40 plus years.

Dan recalled his early days in Montauk as a lad of 20 with dreams of starting his own paper, The Montauk Pioneer, imagining himself tucked atop the then empty Tower, built by Carl Fisher in the 1920s, with a bird's-eye perch on the village. "I wanted the penthouse really, just as a place to write - then I got spooked by it".

Chef Brian Naylor checks in on the guests.

Dan has meandered his way among baymen to billionaires and on Friday night he shared some of his wonderful encounters and regaled attendees with colorful tales before reading a section about his good friend, the late George Plimpton, whom he called "the court jester - a real mad scientist "if there ever was one, chronicling some of George's wonderful legacies from fireworks to the late lamented Paris Review.

Especially entertaining were his remarks of concocting fabulous fables that he would run as "news features" to perk up winter's quietude.

In September of 1991, he decided to pen a story about the glories of the Hamptons in winter. "I'm sitting there writing a headline 'Plenty to do in The Hamptons' and I realize, there was nothing happening, so I made things up - Eel festival, Walking Tours of Boarded up Mansions and even a special flight to Portugal from Montauk", he laughed. "I guess that some folks didn't get the joke because I got a call from the Portuguese Tourist Office wanting to give away a free week's stay in Portugal", he said.

While Dan chatted as any good dinner guest is want to do, attendees feasted on a sumptuous dinner of local fare, including a prosciutto wrapped halibut with tiny Brussels sprouts, lamb shank with roasted winter vegetables, succulent pan roasted chicken, and for the vegetarian - creamy risotto specially created for this evening by Executive Chef Bryan Naylor. Chef Naylor constantly roams the room checking to make sure everything is to his guests' satisfaction, and is truly an East End culinary star in the making.

After dinner, guests moved upstairs to the cozy library where a roaring fire was ablaze for after dinner drinks and some quiet conversation.

Terry Moan, Christine Wasserstein, Dan Rattiner, Dede Gotthelf and Kathy Wells chatted after the dinner.

Upcoming "Dinner And..." evenings with great dining and scintillating conversation will include the East End's most renowned hypnotherapist Judy Rose on Feb. 19; civil rights activist Bob Zellner, author of the best selling, "The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement" on Feb. 26; Jazz on the Vine with the John Ray Trio on Feb. 28; Gordon Herr, newly elected chairman of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee on March 5; an evening with Miguel Martin, acclaimed winemaker with Palmer Vineyards on March 13, as well as an evening with renowned author and lecturer Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons on March 26.

For reservations for any of these uniquely Hamptons experiences call 631-283-1166 or visit www.southamptoninn.com.


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