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The livin’ is easy in the summertime. And chef Cédric Vongerichten believes that warm-weather entertaining should be easy, too.
Born in Bangkok, Thailand, Vongerichten spent his early years learning from his father—the famed chef Jean-George Vongerichten—in renowned kitchens around the world. After honing his craft at legendary restaurants including the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and El Bulli in Barcelona, he now helms the kitchen at the esteemed Perry St. in New York City’s West Village, and operates both Vong Kitchen and Le Burger in Jakarta, Indonesia, with his wife, Ochi. In 2019, the dynamic duo debuted Wayan—a modern Indonesian stunner in downtown Manhattan—which has already garnered much critical acclaim.
As you can imagine, the American Express Global Dining Collection chef—and father of two—is no stranger to sharing his love of fantastic food, delicious drinks, and laid-back good times with his family and friends, especially when the warm weather sets in. To serve up some inspiration for your summertime festivities, we caught up with the culinary powerhouse to chat about his summer plans and his secrets to throwing an unforgettable party.
Departures: Do you have any travel plans for the summer?
Cédric Vongerichten: “We would love to go to South Africa to see the Marine Big 5 (whales, sharks, seals, penguins, and dolphins), dive in the shark tanks, and end the trip sandboarding in Mozambique with the kids.”
What’s your favorite way to get festive during the season?
“During the summer, we love to get together with family and friends, cook dinner, grill outside, and spend the day at the beach or the lake. Tequila on the rocks is always welcome, too!”
Can you share some of your top tips for hosting a summer soirée?
“When hosting a party, planning ahead is truly important so you know what you'll be cooking in advance. I like making homemade frosé—and, of course, having a great playlist is essential.”
What are some of your go-to party recipes?
“Keeping the dishes simple and seasonal is a must. I like to cook a simple piece of meat and/or fish—and just season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. For sides, I like to include seasonal vegetables. During the summer, sautéed corn and heirloom tomato salad are my favorites. For drinks, I love to start the evening with a refreshing cocktail on the rocks with a lemon twist and a few Tristar strawberries.”
On your day off, where’s your ideal place to dine in the warm weather?
“In the summer, we love to pick up fresh seafood at the Rowayton Seafood Market in Norwalk, Connecticut.”
How do you stay cool while entertaining a crowd?
“Jump in the water! Luckily, our family house is near a lake.”