We sent CD correspondent Bren Underwood to find out if people really eat in these luxury homes!
Impromptu cocktail parties, Sunday brunches, formal dinners fit for a king – entertaining friends and family brings tremendous delight to hosts and hostesses. I had the true pleasure of interviewing one of Dallas’ premier hosts recently, acclaimed author and art collector Robert Edsel. The topic was how he entertains in his exquisite Turtle Creek estate that is listed with Dave Perry-Miller’s Madeline Jobst for $15,900,000.
Edsel, as you may know, has written three captivating nonfiction books – Rescuing Da Vinci; The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History; and Saving Italy – focusing on a group of GIs who rescued more than 5 million cultural objects during and after World War II. In fact, “The Monuments Men” will hit the silver screen as a motion picture this December – a must see! –co-written, directed, and produced by George Clooney and staring Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett.
Now let me just take a quick minute to set the scene and enchant you with Edsel’s magnificent home. I know you have coveted it. Built in 1926, the Mediterranean retreat resides on two acres along Turtle Creek and features picture-perfect entertaining spots, such as a terrace with a fireplace that overlooks the creek; kitchen-solarium with steel French doors leading out to a large provincial-style dining table; dining room with views of the manicured gardens, and grassy knolls draped in the lush canopy of magnolia trees. Straight out of a movie set, this gorgeous home surely renders its visitors speechless. Thankfully, the high ceilings offer plenty of air circulation because this home is quite often filled with friends. This is how Robert Edsel lives:
Bren Underwood: How often do you like to entertain?
Robert Edsel: I travel most of the year, however when I’m home I entertain twice a week. When I host friends and family, it’s a chance to create a welcoming and intimate ambiance. To me, entertaining is a reflection of the importance I place on the people I have invited into my home.
BU: Do you fancy yourself a cook or prefer to employ the help of a caterer when entertaining?
Robert Edsel: Most of the time I cook for my guests, with a great deal of the dishes influenced by my years living in Italy. My specialty is grilled Australian lobster tails, however I also gravitate towards traditional Italian dishes, such as pasta al pesto, a Portofino dish that evokes fond memories from the year I lived there.
BU: I am getting hungry! What is your favorite part about creating a meal for friends and family?
Robert Edsel: I prefer cooking at home because I have every accouterment for the event in my herb, floral, and citrus gardens that I could ever need: Rosemary; European basil; thyme; mint; lemon, lime, and orange trees; and rose and hydrangea gardens are right outside the door. I’m happiest when I’m harvesting herbs and fruit from my garden and cooking at home for my friends and family.
BU: You can smell the magnificent gardens. With countless rooms and spaces to entertain in, how do you choose?
Robert Edsel: I have so many fond memories and beautiful collectibles gathered from my travels and time spent living overseas that when I entertain, I tend to move around my home so I can appreciate each of them. I hold formal dinners in the dining room, an inviting alcove with a table I designed and had built for 10. For a small group I’ll arrange dinner at the card table in the den, or sit atop stools in the kitchen-solarium where we can admire the walls of fig ivy and jasmine. I also serve dinner in the gazebo to capture the views of reflections of the setting sun rippling on Turtle Creek. For the most special of occasions, however, I arrange a picnic under the shade of the two of my magnolia trees.
BU: What variety! Dinner does not have to be in the dining room! What is your secret to successfully entertaining?
Robert Edsel: The host should have fun too! Relaxing and enjoying myself is an important part of the specialness of hosting my friends. My busy travel schedule precludes being with my friends as much as I wish, so on those occasions I am home, it’s important to me to enjoy my time with those I love the most in the privacy of my home. I like to think of evenings at my home as the perfect blend of modern American convenience with the ambiance and timelessness of evenings dining with friends in Europe. The great pleasure in this instance is experiencing that enjoyment in my own home.
BU: It’s a beautiful home, indeed.
Bren Underwood is the founder and creator of Must Bring Buns, an etiquette, entertaining, and lifestyle blog. By day, she is the PR Coordinator at Dave Perry-Miller & Associates.