Allure Of Private Dining Will Remain After the Pandemic
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Allure Of Private Dining Will Remain After the Pandemic

The 5-star soiree is here to stay.

By Tracy Kaler
Mon, Jun 7, 2021 1:18pmGrey Clock 5 min

During the height of Covid-19, private dining was an alternative to sharing a restaurant meal with loved ones. But even as the pandemic dwindles and eateries welcome guests again, intimate, five-star hospitality remains in high demand.

“People are eager to reconnect with family and friends, and there’s no better way to do that around the table than with great food and wine,” says James Henderson, CEO of Exclusive Resorts, an elite vacation club based in Denver, Colo., with locations across the globe.

While private dining has long been associated with celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries, guests are gravitating toward intimate environments for everyday occasions as well. “Casual private dining experiences are starting to play a larger role in the hospitality industry, and I think these experiences will only continue to grow in popularity moving forward,” Henderson adds.

No matter the circumstances, the allure of private dining lies in the intimacy, exclusivity, and extraordinary experience that accompanies it, according to Brian Mommsen, founder and CEO of Resident, a New York-based company hosting bespoke dinners in unique venues. Launched in 2018, Resident collaborates with Michelin-trained chefs from Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, and other top-tier New York restaurants to curate upscale events for small groups.

Since March, the startup has collaborated with Exclusive Resorts to offer its members multi-course food and beverage tastings in the vacation club’s Residences at Park Avenue Place in Midtown Manhattan. A member can host a table for up to eight guests for US$2,000. Resident’s chef-driven menus include dishes such as roasted corn, prosciutto, miso, and grits; carrot mousse tartlet; and Long Island crescent duck with lentils and cabbage.

While the chef presents and tells in-depth stories about each dish tableside, an expert sommelier describes the wine and dining guests participate in the conversation.

“We have found that guests thrive on the opportunity to personally interact with our talent, learning about their inspiration for each course firsthand, and getting to know the face behind the food, which is an impossibility at most restaurants,” Mommsen says.

Resident, a New York-based company hosting bespoke dinners in unique venues, collaborates with Michelin-trained chefs from Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, and other top-tier New York restaurants to curate upscale events for small groups. Resident

David Pan and his wife, Tillie, of Orange Beach Concierge, based on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, have hosted intimate dinners for years. But due to the pandemic, the duo has restructured their well-received Chef’s Table to bring the concept to their guests, rather than have their guests coming to them.

Pan believes the attention put into each menu, the locally sourced ingredients and thoughtfully paired wines, along with dining in the comfort of one’s own home, all contribute to the appeal.

With an uptick in business over the past year, his team hosted more than 100 private dinners in 2020 and they’re on track to triple that number this year.

“We predict a heavy increase in 2021 and beyond, and from what our booking calendar looks like today, we are posed to beat 2019 bookings which was our most successful year in the history of our business,” Pan says. His menus include jumbo lump crab cake, goat fromage salad, and sous vide filet mignon with sable rice. Experiences range from US$175 to US$250 per person.

Lawrence Fairchild, proprietor of Stones Wine, Perrarus, and Fairchild Napa Valley, is set to debut House of Perrarus: A Stones Wine and Michelin three-star experience at his picturesque California estate. Deemed the “Hermés of wine” due to the exclusivity of his bottles, Fairchild offers his 95 to 100 point wines to members only, but will make them available to the public at his afternoon soirées, beginning in June.

The winemaker and the acclaimed Single Thread Farm—a farm, inn, and three Michelin-starred restaurant in Sonoma County—will curate five seasonal small plates paired with his wine collection: one Chardonnay, three Cabernet Sauvignons, and a Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc blend.

“This idea stemmed from our clients’ desires for a more private and tasting dining experience,” Fairchild says. During the mid-day fête, guests can sit indoors or outdoors, depending on their preference. Cost is US$500 per person with capacity up to 10 guests.

In October, Chef de Cuisine Michael Vitangeli premiered The Chef’s Table at Scarpetta in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Rooted in Italian tradition, the six-course interactive dinner is personal for Vitangeli. “My grandmother Emelia Vitangeli played the largest role in shaping my culinary career, so it only made sense that she influence the Chef’s Table experience itself,” he says.

Last summer, Chef Yann Nury outfitted a 1971 Airstream Safari and hit the road, cooking up warm weather-inspired fare for small groups. Courtesy Yann Nury

Vitangeli’s menu features homemade burrata, hand-pulled pasta, porchetta (pork belly), among other classics, plated alongside wine pairings presented by sommelier Kyle Asato. Staged in a dedicated dining room, the six-seat table overlooks the famous fountain show and Scarpetta’s kitchen, providing guests “a show from kitchen to table.” Vintangeli shares details and history on the dishes and wine to create a familial atmosphere. The cost is US$200 per guest.

The private fine dining trend has become more of a moveable feast, too. Last summer, Chef Yann Nury outfitted a 1971 Airstream Safari and hit the road, cooking up warm weather-inspired fare for small groups. His customized dinner parties start at US$15,000 for 12 people.

Although he and his team had always catered on the road, both domestically and abroad, they had never prepared gourmet dishes in a food truck. However, the chef considers the mobile kitchen to be a condensed version of what he had done before: focus on local delicacies and ingredients.

“It is in our DNA to bring our food and culinary experiences all around the world, but when Covid came, all this stopped suddenly,” Nury says. “I had to find a solution to stay afloat, but also to stay relevant.”

The French chef outfitted the Airstream with 19th-century oak floors, Charlotte Perriand lighting, Gaggenau appliances, a wine cellar, French copper pots, vintage Michelin guides, and fancy tableware before heading up and down the East Coast. In 2021 and beyond, Nury plans to spend summer in the East, fall out West, and winter in Florida, but he remains open to any destination.

“I believe it is the future of fine dining, a world that no one has paid enough attention to,” he says about the private dining trend. “It is, in reality, the ultimate luxury of culinary experiences.”

Reprinted by permission of Penta. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: June 5, 2021



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New York Watch Auctions Record Uptick in Sales in the Face of Market Slowdown
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Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer BobsWatches.com, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.

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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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