FASHION FLASHBACK: SAKS FIFTH AVENUE CHICAGO…THE STORE CELEBRATING 90 YEARS ON THE MAGNIFICENT MILE

I first published this in 2017…..I am posting again to celebrate Saks Fifth Avenue’s 90th year in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile.  I am adding a couple new features as I look back on my first day at the Store on May 18, 1956…..a lifetime ago, yet just a blink of an eye….so much has happened to me, the City and the World since then but I guess as the Sondheim song (and my theme song goes )…I’m (we’re) Still Here!!!!!

CB69D379-C038-4923-816C-60F9D8226EDCNena with Kay Walsh Dobson, 1957….Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives Columbia College Chicago.

I asked the current Vice-President/General Manager, Matthew Brown, to give me his observation of today’s SFA….thank you so much Matt.

”Our 90th anniversary in Chicago is a true reflection of this remarkable company that is Saks Fifth Avenue. Our store has been a symbol of stylish shopping on the city’s most elegant avenue, Michigan Avenue, and we’re thrilled to be celebrating such an impressive milestone.”

There is a new restaurant, ALTHEA By Matthew Kenny….fabulous new concept generating lots of press, check it out!!!!

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Then take a trip to the CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM to view the new Costume Collection Exhibition SILVERSCREEN TO MAINSTREAM, where you will see many wondrous garments including this extraordinary gown purchased from the Salon Moderne in the New York flagship Saks Fifth Avenue.  It and a pair of peek toe shoes credit Saks.  My photos.

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And now back to our original story………enjoy!!!!!

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Pine Street and Erie early 1900’s, courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia Collegte Chicago,.

imagePhoto courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

Michigan Avenue looking North from Ohio Street (Lake Shore National Bank now Chase!) after 1924.  The tall building is the Allerton Hotel which was built in 1924 (now the Warwick Allerton Hotel) and was one of the first high-rises in Chicago and built as a Men’s Club.  For more information on this Hotel please go to www.warwickhotels.com/allerton-hotel-chicago/history. In 1923 the City passed its first zoning ordinance and North Michigan Avenue became a commercial use district.  It still maintained brownstones and vacant lots…a Nena’s note, when I started with the Company there were still brownstones and vacant lots…this was in 1956.

imageThe entrance to Saks Fifth Avenue on Fifth Avenue in New York City in the 1920’s the company opened it’s doors on September 15, 1924.  The first out of town store was in Palm Beach, Florida which was a seasonal store opened to accommodate the store’s “carriage trade” clientele when they were vacationing in Florida.  The second “full line” store (out of New York) was opened in Chicago in the Spring of 1929.

imageOh, my goodness, Nena did you put this photo in by accident….you are after all an AT&T gal and you are showing the facade of the Verizon flagship store on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Chestnut Street! No dear readers, this is the first location of  Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  It was a five-story building (it has had many, many different looks over the years) and is now into the technological age we live in.  No one can explain why after occupying this space for about 5-6 years the decision was made to relocate to 669 North Michigan Avenue in 1935 when an addition was added to the original Blackstone Shop Building. In 1929 this building had been leased to Stanley Korshak, the architect was Philip B. Maher who also designed the landmarked Woman’s Athletic Club building on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Ontario Street.

imageCourtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

The image on the left is the original building and its addition.  The image on the right is the building where I started my career.  If you look directly to the east, next to the Saks logo on the top of the 5 story building, you see windows, those two sets of three windows looked South on Michigan Avenue and were at the end of my department, Debutante Sportswear.  The one story building, by Holabird & Root, was erected in 1944.  Since it was built during WWII it couldn’t be a substantial structure and was built using surplus bricks due to the War effort.  When I started in May 1956 that short building housed the children’s departments from Layette to teens both girls and boys, we did a huge children’s business.  Each building opened into the other and several floors in the St. Clair building (the building where the Corner Bakery is now) were part of Saks, housing the general offices including mine when I moved into the fashion office in 1957.  This building was accessed via a bridge over the alley.  The bridge also by Holabird & Root was erected in 1937. The nine-story addition was added in 1966 and was also Holabird & Root.  Each floor, through the fifth floor, was expanded and the Executive Offices etc. moved from the St. Clair building to the top three floors, the ninth floor housed electrical equipment, air conditioning, etc.

imageArchitects rendering of the final 669 North Michigan Avenue building.  Courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

You may have heard an Urban Myth about apartments hidden away behind the Store (the building that Cole Haan occupied until recently)…guess what it isn’t a myth, they do exist!  They are now in total disrepair.  Malabry Court consists of 6 apartments or pied à terre surrounding a courtyard.

imageTaken from Lynn Becker’s article from November 2009 you are looking down on the elegant courtyard.  Ms. Becker’s article is absolutely fascinating  I advise you to read the entire piece, please GOOGLE…Michigan Avenue’s forgotten secret: What’s lies behind this innocuous facade?

Let me tell you a little about them since I saw the apartments through the years. When I was in my early teens a couple of the apartments became available.  My parents had friends who lived in one of the apartments and told my Father about the upcoming openings…there was usually a waiting list of about 5 years.  We had visited their friends and had fallen in love with the European charm of them.  They were very French, very small and each had wood burning fireplaces.  Needless to say we all fell in love with the idea but quickly realized that three adults wouldn’t work in what really added up to a studio apartment in square feet.  When I started at the Store they were still occupied and I really longed to live in one, alas it wasn’t to be.  In the mid-1980’s we came up with a plan to cover the courtyard with a glass skylight and do the indiviual apartments as shops to feature our gift assortments and use the courtyard as a restaurant.  They had a separate entrance on Michigan Avenue with an elevator so we could have done dinner as well.  Obviously, this didn’t happen.

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Time moves on, space is no longer available for expansion so what do you do, you move.  The idea of another vertical mall was appealing and so that was the decision to work with a developer and create Chicago Place.  If you stand across from the building you will see three different facades, the center arched building houses the main mall with glass elevators, escalators, elegant columns and at least 20 types of marble for the main floor and other areas.  The stylized motif is based on the Native American word for wild or smelly onion and was used throughout the Mall in the railings etc.  The food court at its beginning was quite wonderful huge live trees, interesting colorful birds (real) flying around and appealing food vendors…this unfortunately didn’t last long and it became a run of the mill food court, oh well.  In addition you would find unique stores but unless you were going to the food court you probably didn’t even know the rest of the Mall was outside the Saks door.

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The architects rendering of the building courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageA good look at the main floor of Chicago Place Mall with the mezzanine.  You can clearly see the different marbles use in the interior.  Photo courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

imageThe free standing Men’s Store across the street from Chicago Place.  The Men’s Store is once again housed in the main building.

The fashion industry is built on obsolescence and MUST always reinvent itself, retail is no different…it is where fashion is shown.  Saying that it is very important not to lose your idenity, your brand.  What is the Saks Fifth Avenue brand, it is service without peer, it is giving it’s clients the best the world has to offer and the newest most exciting brands available without losing its panache!  Has the Store changed over the years, of course it has…you can see that the company believed in the strength of Chicago…just another Nena’s note, Saks Fifth Avenue is the only retailer (other than Sears!) who has been in Chicago since its beginning here in 1929.  It isn’t going any where.  Do stop by and see all the news and you can now even have a bite to eat, and I must add a delicious bite to eat at Sophie’s the 7th floor restaurant with a view like no other in the City. (By the way this, as always, is my opinion and not a paid indorsement, just saying!!!!)

imageSophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago with Executive Chef Ron Aleman.  You will often find me there enjoying Chef Ron’s ever changing menu, he is fantastic!  It is one of my top 10 restaurants in the City.

imageThe view from Sophie’s window looking North…what was there when I began in 1956, in view only “Palmolive Building” and the iconic Water Tower, I think a hint of The Drake Hotel, no Hancock, no Water Tower Place, etc. etc. etc. amazing, isn’t it!!!  Photo Courtesy of the Nena Ivon Archives at Columbia College Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: NATIONAL INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE DAY

 

65F5FA3A-A0DD-4A39-B7D5-75E9AA4FD24AEvery day is Independent Bookstore Day to me, at least every day is “Book Day”! The above photo is almost my to be read stack….and I think it is short!  I thought I would just do a short post of what is on my list.  I never do negative reviews, so you may see a title that doesn’t get space on my blog or in reviews.  Being a Pollyanna, perhaps, but too many to read, to read books I don’t enjoy.  With a minimum (and yes, it is a minimum) of 12 fashion/lifestyle books per year for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club plus everything else I want to share…it becomes a bit overwhelming and I’m not a full time book reviewer….well here goes!

I’ve written about my life long book obsession and now I have the privilege of doing book reviews and recommendations on nenasnotes.  And nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club will celebrate its first anniversary in May!  Where do the years go…I can’t answer that for you.

I have been so fortunate to have The Book Stall as my partner for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club.  They are fabulous with their cooperation and the staff is extraordinary in their knowledge and helpfulness, (they are not a sponsor of this blog!)  I want to start taping my conversations with the authors to share with all of you in some format, probably a nenasnotes podcast….stay tuned for further details, a great way to begin year two!  If you are interested in learning more about nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club you can leave your email in the comment section of this blog or email me at nenasnotes1@gmail.com.

The April book selection was the just released Yves Saint Laurent: The Biography by Laurence Benaim, the first originally written in English.  A very long and minutely detailed accounting of Saint Laurent’s life…filled with quotes from those who knew this iconic designer.  It chronicles his life from birth to death and was sanctioned by Saint Laurent’s late partner, Pierre Bergé.  My group loved Saint Laurent’s life timeline as well as notations at the back of the book.  It isn’t a one day or one weekend read, extremely through and one that will enhance your growing fashion library.  The only negative from my group is that it isn’t illustrated…they do like “pictures” to emphasize the text…I can’t disagree since we are dealing with visual items….clothing and interiors.  I hadn’t planned on ending my first year with a Saint Laurent biography having begun the journey last May with Loulou & Yves: The Untold Story of Loulou de la Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent by Christopher Petkanas, who discussed his wonderful book in conversation with me.  I profiled the book on the blog last May.  I would highly recommend you read both being the fashion savvy readers you are!

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Next month’s selection is the newly published POINT OF VIEW: Forty Years in Fashion by Tonne Goodman and yes, it has “pictures”!  I haven’t read it as yet…looks fabulous. The cover alone makes it a must have, stunning!

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What am I reading right now and will review in detail…Ruth Reichl’s new Memoir Save Me the Plums…so far I am absolutely loving it and highly recommend you put it on you To Be Read list, I know you will love it too.  Reichl is an engaging, brilliant and beautiful writer.  Do you miss GOURMET as much as I do?!

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Here are some my upcoming books in no particular order…full disclosure, I purchase many (all my fashion/lifestyle books), am given Advance Readers Copies (ARC) to review, and also use the Chicago Public Library…I’ve been a Library hound since birth!!!!  I, of course, prefer to have a book in my hands but often my ARC’s are ebooks.

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Yes, I do read a “cozy” now and again….clears the mind and I like a series when doing them, often I turn to Laura Childs.

I’ll post reviews on each….obviously it will take a bit of time to do them all and this is just the tip of the TBR pile…I obviously need to take a deep breath and jump in….bear with me!

This Books Books Books post, like all my book posts, is underwritten by an anonymous sponsor.  If you are interesting in supporting nenasnotes please contact me for detailed information.

VINTAGE FASHION: RETROSPECT 2019

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I’m so excited to share the following information with you and hope you can attend the first RETROSPECT Vintage Modern Fashion Chicago events.
I have written many posts on Randolph Street Market and have featured it’s brilliant founder, Sally Schwartz, in a nenasnotes Profile. Her home and personal collections are beyond fabulous, go to the archives if you haven’t read it.  Sally and I have been friends for more years than we can remember and when I retired she asked me to join her in various capacities at  RSM .  I now write two monthly posts for the RSM blog , one on fashion and one on collecting…please check it out, they are exclusive to that blog (once in awhile I repeat here but always there first!!!).  nenasnotes is not sponsored by Randolph Street Market…just to be clear. I happen to be a fan and find lots of information to share here and on Instagram and Facebook at the monthly Markets and now I will share my finds at RETROSPECT as well!
As you can see, there are lots of activities during RETROSPECT, including Tom Mantel’s extraordinary 1940 Packard always a show stopper….the Vintage Fashion Show with our fashion influencers wearing their own vintage pieces, an unbelievable line up of  International vintage clothing and accessory dealers many of whom have never shown in Chicago…..enough to make you join us?  I hope so.
Oh wait, there’s more…we begin the celebrations with a stop at the iconic The Music Box with THE fashion film we all adore…FUNNY FACE featuring the beyond gorgeous designs of Hubert de Givenchy worn to perfection by his muse, Audrey Hepburn while Fred Astaire photographs her every move and emotion….”Think Pink”, my friends and bring all your fashion savvy chums, be prepared for amazing fashion a bit of frolicking and spend the weekend with RETROSPECT….I guarantee you won’t regret it!  Here are all the details…..

Retrospect Vintage Modern Fashion Chicago

Retrospect vintage modern fashion chicago

RETROSPECT VINTAGE FASHION MARKET, Friday May 3 from 3pm-10pm and Saturday May 4 from 10am-6pm will be held at 2260 South Grove Street on the Chicago River, just west of Chinatown. Sponsored by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers with their Director of Luxury Accessories and Couture, Timothy Long, Media partners Modern Luxury/CS and Michigan Avenue Magazine and Luxe Bloom.

The evening event will benefit The Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum and will feature a fashion show, produced by RETROSPECT’S Ambassador Historian and MC, Nena Ivon, with Chicago’s vintage loving Influencers wearing their own vintage looks augmented with picks from the unique participating vendors…

A quote from Nena, “Our local fashionable set, on the whole, are more intellectual than most any other place and more discerning. Chicago fashion hunters are well heeled and well hatted, creative, unique, and deadly serious about adorning themselves. Chicago is a different realm altogether and RETROSPECT reflects this.”

***HELD AT A NEW VENUE JUST WEST OF CHINATOWN, MUSEUM CAMPUS & LAKE SHORE DRIVE***
2260 S. Grove at the foot of I90/94/290/55
**COMPLIMENTARY ONSITE PARKING**

For further information and to purchase tickets visit us at www.RETROSPECTchicago.com and our Instagram @RETROSPECTchicago And mark your calendars for the Fall RETROSPECT event November 1 and 2.

Retrospect weekend events and ticket information

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Thurs May 2 – 7pm-10pm

RETROSPECT WEEKEND PRESENTS FUNNY FACE AT THE MUSIC BOX

Come dressed in your vintage best to Chicago’s oldest movie house the MUSIC BOX THEATREfor an exclusive showing of the 1957 Stanley Donnen directed movie “Funny Face”! A night at the movies with your friends from the Randolph Street Market and RETROSPECTvintage modern fashion will be just what the style doctor ordered! The evening will open with a brief panel discussion led by noted and witty Chicago fashion historian Nena Ivon and friends. “Funny Face” features Fred Astaire as fashion photographer Dick Avery, who is sent out by his female boss Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) to find a “new face”. It doesn’t take Dick long to discover Jo (Audrey Hepburn), an owlish Greenwich Village bookstore clerk. Dick whisks the wide-eyed girl off to Paris and with the help of an extensive wardrobe by Hubert de Givenchy transforms Jo from waif to supermodel.  A classic for all lovers of movies and fashion! And following the movie, join us in the cafe for further discussion, drinks and coffee available for purchase. Hope you can join your new and old friends at this raucus and fun evening!!

$12 per person PURCHASED at musicboxtheatre.com


Fri May 3 – 3pm-10pm

RETROSPECT time to paRty shop

Come with your serious shopping party shoes on! The night has just begun and the shopping is the best date you ever had! Meet our superstar dealers, hear their stories and shop the finest, most gorgeous selection of vintage fashion, jewelry and other adornments ever assembled in Chicago! Enjoy bubbles and light snacks, dj, fashion show, photo ops galore and complimentary onsite parking. Ticket good for Fri May 3 + Sat May 4.

$30 per person


Sat May 4 – 10am-6pm

RETROSPECT the gReatest day of vintage shopping eveR

Now the fun can really begin when you shop till you drop and then you plotz with your new wardrobe improvements! Enjoy the view, you’re seeing an ocean of the most exciting vintage fashion, jewelry and adornments ever assembled together in Chicago! Bring friends and make a day of it! Onsite cafe, informal modeling, dj, photo ops galore and complimentary onsite parking and free street parking.

$15 per person or MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL – Mother + 1 Offspring $25


Sun May 5 – 11am-1pm

RETROSPECT: exclusive tour of silveR scReen to mainstReam exhibition / chicago histoRy museum

Exclusive private tour and lunch at the Chicago History Museum with tour of current Costume Collection exhibition Silver Screen to Mainstream! Showcasing fashions from Paris, New York, Chicago, and Hollywood, Silver Screen to Mainstream tracks how Hollywood’s glamourous reach extended to all classes in the 1930’s through the 1940’s. The exhibition tells a tale of making it big, making do, and maintaining appearances during a tumultuous era in American history. Featuring thirty garments by designers such as Chanel, Vionnet, Valentina, Paul du Pont, Howard Greer, and Adrian. You will be introduced to a time when sophisticated design lent a perception of stability as the nation grappled with its reinvention and created the “American Look”.

$35 per person LIMITED TICKETS

FOOD-FOOD-FOOD: FROM NENA’S RECIPE BOX

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I know, I know I haven’t posted like forever….please forgive me. I will be up and running soon…I promise! To make up for it how about a couple of recipes from my recipe box….one brand new that I recently concocted, the other from Ruthy, my Mom.  I did both today in somewhat of a cooking frenzy and now I am exhausted and writing this with wine in hand….yes, yes, yes!  I know I should be doing Easter or Passover recipes (for some unknown reason I’ve never done a brisket, do send a good recipe along, but I do have a fabulous noodle kugel, that one of mom’s sales associates, a million years ago, gave her, it is amazing….which I’ll find and share later).  I usually do either a ham (I love ham!) or leg of lamb, but I’m going out for Easter supper this year and what would I do with an entire ham….which I insist on doing because you need the bone in for the flavor…at least I think so..and how many ham sandwiches, salads, soups, etc. can one do. I’m not fond of freezing ham. Leg of lamb a different story I did one last year because I wanted to do my lamb curry, which I am mad for…so no big deal and cold lamb sandwiches…yum, yum, yum!!

I didn’t think to take a photo while preparing what I have named Nena’s Concoction…which it truly is….a no recipe, recipe….here you go…

NENA’s CONCOCTION

This takes minutes to prepare and is perfect not only when you want something quick for yourself or your SO or a dinner or perfect for a buffet in a chafing dish.

The basics for one serving….

Throw a good gob of butter into a skillet, add a hand full of diced onions  (I use already chopped onions saves time), a generous teaspoon of garlic paste (thanks Tommy for turning me on to this magic ingredient) cook until slightly brown, add a handful of fresh sliced mushrooms of your choice (I buy them already sliced…my knife skills aren’t the best…need a class), brown them, add a protein of your choice…I’ve used chicken (rotisserie chicken again my choice) dark or white or combination, shrimp (super yummy in this dish) could be all veggie, etc.  Combine, add a hand full of frozen peas, add a generous splash (be generous!!) of Bristal Cream Sherry (again my preference, never use cooking sherry….dreadful stuff…always cook with wine or liquor you would drink don’t skimp) and heat through then add a generous amount of whole fat sour cream. And voila you have a meal  I serve with any kind of rice that  suits my fancy, which is cooking at the same time.  I have become addicted to Uncle Ben’s  Ready Rice, its really good, (this is not a commercial, just a handy suggestion!) a zillion flavors or egg noodles or pasta.  CC4C2F9F-6A95-46F1-B1D6-A1C8F5FCF3DD

RUTHY’S SPAGHETTI SAUCE

Is there anything more nostalgic than using recipes that you have done all your life, I think not.  And when I find Mom’s handwriting I get a warm glow.  All of you would have adored her….everyone did.  Here is her spaghetti sauce, yes, I know everyone has their own but this one is especially tasty.  It is on the stove as I write this, just saying, and is smelling delish!  I haven’t made it forever but had a taste for it. I’ll have at least two nice containers to freeze in addition to my Saturday supper.  It was her go to when we had big informal gatherings…unless Daddy was doing something in his repertoire!

Serves 8 (easy to double or triple depending on # of guests)

2 Tablespoons parsley

4 medium size onions chopped

4 cloves garlic (I used a teaspoon of the minced in a jar)

1/4 cup butter

2  8 ounce cans tomato puree

3  6 ounce cans tomato paste + 3. 6 ounce cans of water water

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2/3 cup red wine (your choice perhaps a Chianti Classico)  that you would serve with dinner

1 finely crushed bay leaf

1 box sliced fresh mushrooms

1 pound ground beef

1 pound long spaghetti

Parmesan cheese

Cook parsley, onions and garlic in hot butter until soft.  Add tomato purée, tomato paste, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, water and wine.  Add browned meat( cooked in additional butter, then cook slowly for three (3) hours.  Cook spaghetti according to directions, drain and place on warm plate, pour sauce over spaghetti, generously sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fun to do at table.  Serve with tossed green salad and Italian bread, a light fruit dessert and, of course, bottles of Italian red wine, Salute!!

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PROFILE: HUTTON WILKINSON: A UNIQUE CREATOR…CARRYING ON AND EXPANDING TRADITION

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It is my extreme delight to share the incredible Hutton Wilkinson with you in today’s profile. I first had the pleasure of working with Hutton when he wrote his first book, TONY DUQUETTE, and made a personal appearance, with Wendy Goodman, at the Chicago Saks Fifth Avenue.  He made a second visit with his second book, MORE IS MORE, and his third, TONY DUQUETTE AND HUTTON WILKINSON JEWELRY along with his fine jewelry collections (on several occasions).  Always immaculately garbed and full of fantastic stories…it is my great pleasure to call him a friend. Recently on nenasnotes (December 10, 2018) I posted my review of his newest unbelievably exquisite book, DAWNRIDGE, beyond glorious…and he joined me in conversation for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club to discuss that and his other books….bonus!!!! 
I must admit having heard Hutton speak on several occasions I knew my group would find him amazing….I was not disappointed nor were they. The hour flew by and I can only say we need a repeat with another book sooner rather than later.  I really didn’t need to prompt him with questions he speaks quite eloquently and with much passion. My TFBC attendees were totally absorbed and had in-depth questions.  It was a stellar evening and we all raised our bubbles to toast this man of MANY interests!!!! Thank you Hutton for sharing yourself with all of us.
Sit down, relax, grab a glass or two of chilled bubbles and get to know this unique creator in his own words (and all in caps!) as he responds to my questionnaire, you will be awestruck….enjoy!
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
I THINK IT WAS A PAPER ROUTE… THEN I WORKED UP TO SELLING L.A. TIMES AND HERALD EXAMINERS AT THE CORNER OF 3RD AND WESTERN IN L.A. AND REALLY MOVED UP WHEN I GOT THE CORNER IN FRONT OF ST. BASILS CATHOLIC CHURCH AT HOBART AND WILSHIRE SELLING THE L.A. TIMES ON SUNDAY MORNING (THAT WAS THE MOST LUCRATIVE JOB AND THE MOST COVETED CORNER IN L.A. AND I WRANGLED IT.)  WHEN I WAS A LITTLE BIT OLDER I GOT TOGETHER WITH TWO OTHER PALS AND MADE COFFEE… PUT IT IN A HUGE THERMOUS, SET UP A CARD TABLE AT 7TH AND GRAND IN L.A. (AGAIN THE BEST POSSIBLE CORNER) AND SOLD COFFEE STARTING AT 6:00 AM DURING THE  SUMMERS ON WEEK DAYS… WE WERE THE DARLINGS OF THE SECRETARY’S AND THE LAWYERS… AND PRE-DATED STAR-BUCKS BY 15 YEARS… WE MADE A FORTUNE THAT SUMMER, GOT OUR PICTURES IN THE L.A. TIMES AS YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS… TOO BAD WE DIDN’T TAKE IT FURTHER AND THINK UP STARBUCKS BUT WE WERE JUST OUT OF 8TH GRADE… SO WHAT THE HELL.
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR MOST RECENT OCCUPATION? 
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                                    TONY DUQUETTE AND HUTTON WILKINSON 
I WANTED TO WORK WITH TONY DUQUETTE SINCE I WAS IN 7TH GRADE.  I READ ABOUT HIM IN THE SUNDAY HOME MAGAZINE OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES.  HE LIVED IN A SILENT FILM STUDIO WITH HIS WIFE ELIZABETH AND THEY WERE PHOTOGRAPHED ALL DRESSED UP AND BEJEWELED, ALL OVER THE HOUSE.  THEIR LIVING ROOM WAS 150 FEET LONG, 28 FEET WIDE AND 28 FEET HIGH WITH A STAGE AT THE END.  I SHOWED THE ARTICLE TO MY FATHER (WHO WAS A SQUARE ARCHITECT) SITTING AT THE BREAKFAST TABLE  AND SAID “THIS IS WHAT I’M INTERESTED IN.”  HE TOLD ME THAT I WAS “100% CRAZY”!  I TORE OUT THE ARTICLE AND SAVED IT, AND ASKED EVERYONE I KNEW (MOSTLY MY PARENTS FRIENDS)  IF THEY KNEW TONY DUQUETTE, AND SOME OF THEM DID… BUT NONE OF THEM WOULD INTRODUCE ME TO HIM.  FINALLY I HAD AN ART TEACHER AND WE USED TO PLAY, “TONY DUQUETTE” … JUST ME AND HER… AND ONE DAY SHE TOLD ME THAT “TONY DUQUETTE IS LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS”  I QUITE MY JOB (AN AFTER SCHOOL JOB IN THE ‘OLD WORLD WEAVERS’ FABRIC SHOWROOM ON ROBERTSON BLVD IN LOS ANGELES) AND QUIT MY SCHOOL THAT DAY AND WENT TO WORK FOR TONY AS A VOLUNTEER.  I WORKED FOR FREE FOR TWO YEARS… AND THEN HE PAID ME $50.00 EVERY TWO WEEKS FOR THREE YEARS (I WAS NEVER RICHER) AND THEN HE OFFERED ME $5.00 AN HOUR (THAT MAKES ME 21 YEARS OLD AND NOT VERY BRIGHT) AND I TOLD HIM … “I THIINK I CAN DO BETTER ON MY OWN.” SO I OPENED MY OWN BUSINESS AS AN INTERIOR DECORATOR… AND MADE A LOT OF MONEY… WITH WHICH I BECAME INVESTMENT PARTNERS WITH TONY IN A SERIES OF APARTMENT HOUSES, OFFICE BUILDINGS, AND RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS WHICH WE WOULD FIX UP AND FLIP 50 -50.  LATER WHEN TONY GOT OLDER… HE WAS OFFERED GREAT DECORATING JOBS WHICH HE WASN’T INTERESTED IN … I TOLD HIM “TAKE THE JOBS, I’LL DO THE WORK AND WE’LL SPLIT THE PROFITS.” AND SO WE BECAME BUSINESS PARTNERS… FIVE YEARS BEFORE TONY DIED,  BERGDORF GOODMAN ASKED US TO CREATE A COLLECTION OF ONE OF A KIND JEWELRY WHICH WAS INSTANTLY SUCCESSFUL WITH THE CUSTOMERS, COUTURE DESIGNERS, AND THE FASHION PRESS.   IT WAS AT THIS TIME THAT I PURCHASED THE BUSINESS AND THE TRADEMARKS TO THE NAME TONY DUQUETTE… AND THAT IS MY MOST RECENT OCCUPATION… I AM CEO, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND OWNER OF TONY DUQUETTE INC., AN INTERIOR DESIGN AND FINE JEWELRY COMPANY WITH LICENSES FOR CARPETS WITH PATTERSON FLYNN MARTIN, FABRICS FOR JIM THOMPSON THAI SILK, LIGHTING FOR REMAINS LIGHTING, DISHES AND TABLETOP FOR MOTTAHEDEH, MANTLES FOR CHESNEY, CHOCOLATE BOXES FOR LOUIS SHERRY, FURNITURE FOR MAITLAND SMITH… ETC.
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WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER THE FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT?
I WENT TO  MY FATHER AND GRANDFATHERS ARCHITECTURAL OFFICES EVERY DAY SINCE I WAS OLD ENOUGH TO WALK AND TALK.  THEY’D SIT ME UP ON A HIGH STOOL AND I WOULD POUR OVER THE ARCHITECTURAL BOOKS AND THE DRAFTSMEN WOULD CALL ME “THE LITTLE ARCHITECT”… STARTING IN KINDERGARTEN, I WOULD BE PICKED UP AFTER SCHOOL AND TAKEN TO THE OFFICE… THAT’S WHERE I HUNG OUT… ALL THE WAY THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL…  THERE WAS ONLY A MOMENT… AFTER I SAW THE FILM CAMELOT… THAT I THOUGHT I WOULD LIKE TO BE A COSTUME DESIGNER… BUT THAT ONLY LASTED A COUPLE OF DAYS.  I WAS 17 WHEN I MADE THE FINAL DECISION THAT I WOULD RATHER BE A DECORATOR… BECAUSE I WASN’T THAT GOOD WITH MATH… AND DON’T HAVE A LOT OF PATIENCE (I LIKE TO GET THINGS DONE FAST AND SEE RESULTS) … AND ALSO… IT WAS THE DECORATORS THAT HAD THE ROLLS ROYCES (IN THOSE DAYS) AND THE DECORATORS WHO GOT ALL THE ATTENTION IN THE PRESS… SO I MADE MY DECISION… AND FORTUNE STEPPED IN … AND I GOT TO APPRENTICE UNDER MY DESIGN IDOL… TONY DUQUETTE… AND THE REST IS HISTORY.
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WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN? 
I’VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL… BUT I REALLY DON’T FEEL LIKE I’VE “MADE IT”! THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF HIGHLIGHTS…  MY FAVORITE SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT WAS MY ONLY TIME ON STAGE WITH TONY DUQUETTE… IT WAS AT THE PALACE OF THE LEGION OF HONORE MUSEUM AND THAT WAS MEMORABLE.  DOING THE PALAZZO IN VENICE WAS A BIG DEAL… BEING ASKED TO SIT ON THE BOARD OF DIFFA IN NYC … AND ALSO ON THE NYC BOARD OF SAVE VENICE WAS PERSONALLY REWARDING…  WHEN I GOT A HOUSE WITH A SWIMMING POOL AND A TENNIS COURT WAS A BIG DAY… THE FIRST TIME I WAS MENTIONED IN THE L.A. TIMES, WHEN MY DECOR FOR THE GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND BENEFIT WAS WRITTEN UP AS “NOT ONLY BEAUTIFUL BUT DISTINGUISHED.”  THAT WAS NICE.  BUT I STILL DON’T THINK I’VE “MADE IT”.   MAYBE I’LL THINK I’VE MADE IT WHEN I GET A CAR… YOU KNOW… A GREAT CAR LIKE A 1959 LINCOLN MARC II OR A ROYCE… OR A DELAHAY… OR BETTER YET A 1935 DELAGE…  I’VE SPLURGED FOR A LOT OF REALLY BEAUTIFUL USELESS THINGS IN MY LIFE… BUT I’VE NEVER HAD A CAR… YOU KNOW… A REAL CAR.
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                                                             1935 Delage
HOW YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BROUGHT YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW? 
I THINK I MAY HAVE ANSWERED THIS ALREADY… THE BEST PART IS THAT THE ORIGINAL PASSION… IS STILL RED HOT… I LIVE AND BREATH DESIGN… ALWAYS HUNGRY TO LEARN MORE… TO SEE MORE… AND TO CREATE MORE…  WHAT I’M HOPING FOR NOW IS A PATRON OR TWO WHO WANT EXACTLY WHAT I WANT AND WANT ME TO DO FOR THEM WHAT I WANT TO DO FOR ME.
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WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE? 
IN HIND SIGHT…  I MIGHT HAVE LIKED TO WORK IN THE MOVIES… NOT AS AN ACTOR BUT MAYBE A SCENEOGRAPHER OR EVEN A PRODUCER… RIGHT THIS MINUTE… I LOVE WRITING BOOKS… I’VE WRITTEN AN ADVENTURE SERIES AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON… IT IS WRITTEN FOR YOUNG ADULTS BUT LIKE HARRY POTTER IT IS BEING READ AND EQUALLY LIKED BY ADULTS TOO.  THE FIRST BOOK IS CALLED “GASPAR BROWN AND THE MYSTERY OF THE GASPARILLA SUCCESSION.”  TO DATE I HAVE COMPLETED SEVEN ADVENTURES… OF WHICH THE FIRST THREE HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED.

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, LIST THE FOLLOWING,IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE…THEATER (LEGIT, MUSICALS)?

I MOSTLY READ BIOGRAPHIES.  MY FAVORITE SO FAR IS “JOHN ADAMS” BY DAVID  MCCULLOUGH…  MY FAVORITE MOVIES ARE, SUNSET BLVD, AUNTIE MAME, GILDA, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE FOUNTAIN HEAD, ALL THE BROADWAY MELODY’S… AS FOR STAGE SHOWS, THE FIRST LIVE SHOW I EVER SAW AS A KID WAS “THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN” WITH TAMMIE GRIMES, I’VE SEEN THEM ALL… AND I LIKE THEM ALL… IT WOULD BE EASIER TO LIST A SHOW I DIDN’T LIKE… BUT I CAN’T THINK OF ONE RIGHT NOW…  I LOVED THE ROYAL OPERA PRODUCTION OF TURANDOT, AND THE BOLSHOI PRODUCTION OF SLEEPING BEAUTY.  AND I’LL NEVER FORGET SEEING DANGEROUS LIASONS ON STAGE IN LONDON.
BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY, TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO, LOCAL RESTAURANT? 
I HAVE TO CONFESS THAT I DON’T “LISTEN” TO MUSIC… THE ONLY TIME MUSIC IS ON IN OUR HOUSE IS IF THERE IS A PARTY… (BACKGROUND MUSIC IS THE HEARTBEAT OF A PARTY AND ESSENTIAL… A PARTY WITHOUT MUSIC ISN’T A PARTY)… WE USUALLY HIRE AN ORCHESTRA OR A COMBO TO PLAY AT PARTIES… BUT WE ALSO HAVE OUR FAVORITE COLE PORTER, JEROME KERN INSTRUMENTALS PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND… BUT WE NEVER LISTEN TO IT!!!  I LISTEN TO 50’S ROCK AND ROLL, CLASSICAL (IF IT IS BAROQUE AND SOUNDS LIKE A STORM AT SEA) AND JAZZ BUT ONLY WHEN IN THE CAR…  WE LOVE TO DANCE… SO I LOVE DANCE MUSIC… AGAIN, COLE PORTER, JEROME KERN, HARRY WARREN… 20S, 30S, 40S TUNES.   WE ONLY ENTERTAIN AT HOME… NEVER IN RESTAURANTS… WE ONLY GO TO RESTAURANTS WHEN INVITED  AND THERE ARE ONLY THREE THAT WE LIKE… THE GRILL ON THE ALLEY IN BEVERLY HILLS, FRIDA’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT ON SOUTH BEVERLY DRIVE IN BEVERLY HILLS, AND CHARLIE’S COFFEE SHOP FOR SUNDAY BREAKFAST AT THE OLD FARMERS MARKET IN L.A.  THEY SERVE OLD FASHIONED, THIN WAFFLES AND WE’VE BEEN GOING THERE SINCE HIGH SCHOOL.
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HOBBIES…. 
ALTHOUGH I’M SERIOUS ABOUT IT… MY WRITING IS MORE OF A HOBBY… WHICH I DO IN EVERY AIRPORT ON EVERY AIRPLANE AND IN EVERY HOTEL ROOM I GO TO … AND I TRAVEL A LOT…

DESIGNING JEWELRY… AGAIN… IT IS A SERIOUS MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS FOR ME… BUT I TREAT IT MORE AS A HOBBY SINCE IT GIVES ME SO MUCH PLEASURE…

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AND I SUPPOSE TRAVELING… I LOVE TO TRAVEL… MY PROBLEM IS I KEEP GOING BACK TO THE SAME PLACES… I HAVE RESOLVED NOT TO DO THAT ANYMORE… SINCE THERE ARE SO MANY PLACES I’VE NEVER SEEN SUCH AS CHINA… RUSSIA, MOROCCO FOR EXAMPLE.
HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC?
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ANYTHING CHINESE… ONLY PAINTED FURNITURE… NO BROWN MAHOGANY… ANYTHING 18TH CENTURY VENETIAN… …  I ALSO LOVE REALLY ECCENTRIC VICTORIAN DECORATIONS AND ARCHITECTURE… ANTIQUE CHINESE CARPETS…  VERY HI-LUXURY ART DECO… PREFERABLY FRENCH… NOTHING MID-CENTURY EXCEPT THE ARCHITECTURE… I LOVE MODERN ARCHITECTURE!!!   NOTHING IN SILVER… ANYTHING IN VERMEILLE OR GOLD… AND 18TH CENTURY CHINESE EXPORT PORCELAIN… ALL OF THE ABOVE IS WHAT I LIKE… ALL OF IT IS WHAT I COLLECT… EXCEPT FOR THE ART DECO STUFF… I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO PICK UP MY GAME AND GO HUNTING!!!
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD AND BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOURSELF!)
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                                          HUTTON AND RUTH WILKINSON 
HUTTON AND RUTH WILKINSON, TONY AND ELIZABETH DUQUETTE, ARTURO AND PATRICIA LOPEZ WILSHAW, BARON DE REDE AND NENA IVON, CARLOS DE BESTEGUI AND DODIE ROSEKRANS, SIR CHARLES AND LADY MENDL, DIANA VREELAND AND CECIL BEATON AND LETS NOT FORGET JOSE AND MISIA SERT TOO… THAT WOULD BE A DINNER PARTY OF COLLECTORS, PARTY GIVERS, CONNOISSEURS, ARBITERS OF TASTE, AND THANK GOD… I WON’T HAVE TO URGE ANY OF THEM “TO DRESS UP”.
WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE ?
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I LIKE RECOGNIZEABLE FOOD… MEAT AND PATATOS… LET’S SEE… WE’LL START WITH BELUGA, AND CHAMPAGNE… LOTS OF IT… SIT DOWN TO DINNER… A SIMPLE SALAD… ENDIVE, AND A GOOD VINAIGRETTE DRESSING… OR MAYBE SEARED SCALLOPS IN BROWN BUTTER… THAT’S ALWAYS TASTY… WE’D MOVE ON TO EITHER  BEEF WELLINGTON OR DOVER SOLE… ALTHOUGH I ALSO LIKE A GOOD PORK ROAST WITH FRUITS AND ROASTED FINGERLING PATATOS.  I’M NOT INTO GREEN VEGETABLES OTHER THAN STRING BEANS… SO WE’LL THROW IN SOME STRING BEANS SAUTEED WITH A LITTLE MINCED ONION AND BACON AND BUTTER…   AND FOR DESERT… CHOCOLATE MOUSSE OR CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH ICECREAM OR A HOT FUDGE SUNDAE… (ANYTHING CHOCOLATE)  AND CHAMPAGNE ALL THE WAY THROUGH… (NO RED OR WHITE WINE… TOO MANY DECISIONS TO MAKE)… JUST CHAMPAGNE ALL THE WAY THROUGH… LOTS OF IT.  BESIDES… ITS ALL ABOUT HOW THE TABLE LOOKS… NO FLOWERS… ONLY OBJECTS… TO CREATE A TABLESCAPE FOR DINING…

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST ?

I HAVE A BEACH SHACK… ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, NEAR PALM BEACH, FLORIDA… I LOVE IT MORE THAN ANYTHING … ESPECIALLY SINCE IT HAS REPLACED MY BELOVED RANCH IN MALIBU WHICH I RECENTLY SOLD ALTHOUGH I’VE RETAINED 60 OF THE ORIGINAL 100 ACRES FOR MYSELF…. SOMEDAY MAYBE I’LL BUILD A THAI WEEKEND HOUSE ON THAT LAND… I LOVE TO TRAVEL… AND I LOVE INDIA… I’VE BEEN 10 TIMES… I COULD LIVE THERE… IT IS EVERYTHING IT PROMISES TO BE… I MUST SAY… I KEEP GOING BACK TO THE SAME PLACES… DELHI, AGRA, JAIPUR, UDAIPUR JODHPUR… I’M CRAZY TO SEE MORE… JAISALMER, AND GOA… BUT I ALSO LOVE VENICE, ITALY… EVERY MINUTE, EVERY INCH OF IT… I LOVE IT IN THE FALL WHEN IT’S HOT IN THE SUN AND COOL IN THE SHADE… I LOVE IT IN THE SUMMER WHEN YOU CAN SPEND TIME  SHOPPING IN THE MORNING… HANG OUT AT THE LIDO ALL AFTERNOON… THEN GO INTO TOWN TO LOOK AROUND SOME MORE WHEN IT COOLS OFF… I LOVE IT WHEN THERE ARE FESTIVALS AND FIREWORKS… AND SPEAKING OF FIREWORKS..  I LOVE IT IN THE WINTER TOO…  FOR INDIA… YOU NEED AT LEAST A MONTH… MINIMUM… FOR VENICE… A DAY, A WEEK A MONTH OR A YEAR… IT’S NEVER ENOUGH.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING MOST IN YOUR FREE TIME? 
I LIKE TO READ AND I LIKE TO WRITE… I RARELY GO OUTDOORS… I’VE GOT THIS WORLD FAMOUS GARDEN AND I BARELY EVER GO OUTSIDE AND LOOK AT IT LET ALONE SIT IN IT… I LOVE WATCHING OLD MOVIES… AND BECAUSE I RARELY SIT STILL… WHEN I DO… I LOVE BEING A COUCH PATATO.
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FAVORITE WORK OF PUBLIC ART?
I LIKE ALMOST ANYTHING BY HENRY MOORE… OR PAUL MANSHIP… I LIKE MONUMENTAL SCULPTURES LIKE THE STATUES OVER THE ENTRANCE TO THE GRANDE PALAISE IN PARIS… AND IF IT WERE STILL AROUND I’D PROBABLY CHOOSE THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES…  I’M CRAZY ABOUT SO MANY THINGS… HOW ABOUT THE MOSAICS ON THE UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS IN MEXICO CITY… OR THE SCULPTURE OF CHAC-MOOL AT CHICHENITZA.
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HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED?
I’D LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED AS AN ARBITER OF TASTE… IF THAT DOESN’T WORK OUT THEN… AN ECCENTRIC… AND IF THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN… A NICE GUY, A GOOD FRIEND, AND A GENEROUS HOST… ONE OR ALL OF THE ABOVE WOULD BE A MIRACLE!
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 A FAVORITE RECIPE…
ANYTHING FROM THE CHEZ MAXIM COOKBOOK, ANYTHING THAT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH CORNMEAL… ANYTHING WITH MOLE SAUCE… SEE BELOW:
MY FAVORITE RECIPE FROM THE CHEZ MAXIM’S COOK BOOK IS POTAGE BILLY B.  I LIKE THE BACK STORY AS MUCH AS THE SOUP.  IT WAS A CUSTOMER, WILLIAM BRAND WHO WANTED TO SPARE HIS FRIENDS THE DELICATE OPERATION OF EATING MUSSELS WITH THEIR FINGERS SO HE ASKED THAT ONLY THE JUICE BE SERVED WITHOUT THE MUSSELS.  THE EXPERIMENT WAS SUCH A SUCCESS THAT WHEN HIS GUESTS RETURNED TO MAXIM’S THEY ALL ASKED FOR THE “POTAGE BILLY BRAND” AND SO IT WAS PLACED ON THE MENU AS POTAGE BILLY B WHICH HAS BECOME A STAPLE OF FRENCH CULINARY TRADITION. 
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POTAGE BILLY B
1 1/2 cups Fumet de Poisson
2 qt. mussels
1 large onion
1 stalk celery
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs parsley
1/2 tsp. ground peppercorns

Salt, scrape
 and wash the mussels thoroughly.  Mince the onion and place it in a deep saucepan along with the celery, wine, and pepper. Add the muscles, cover the sauce pan, and boil over a high flame for 6 minutes. Shake the mussels in the pan two or three times during the cooking process so that those on top go to the bottom and vice versa. When the mussels are open remove and drain them. Pour the liquid in the sauce pan through a fine strainer, return to the saucepan, and reduced to about 1 quart of liquid. Add the Fumet de Poisson and cream and reheat over a low flame until liquid comes almost to the boiling point, stirring continually with a wooden spatula. Season to taste.Serve very hot without the mussels. This soup can also be served cold.
CHICKEN MOLE WITHOUT TREE NUTS… (FROM THE FOOD NETWORK)  I’M ALLERGIC TO TREE NUTS SO I HAVE ELIMINATED THE ALMONDS FROM THIS RECIPE… AND BELIEVE ME… IT TASTES JUST AS GOOD WITHOUT THEM!!!
INGREDIENTS:

1 chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 6 pieces

5 black peppercorns

Kosher salt

1/2 cup sesame seeds

5 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 teaspoon anise seeds

1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds

6 dried guajillo chile peppers

4 dried ancho chile peppers

6 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds

2 6-inch corn tortillas, torn into pieces

1 2.7-ounce disk Mexican chocolate, broken into pieces

Pinch of sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the chicken and peppercorns in a large pot, cover with water and season with salt. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and set the cooking liquid aside.
  2. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing, until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside 2 tablespoons for garnish and transfer the rest to a blender. In the same skillet, toast the cloves, cinnamon stick, and anise and coriander seeds until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add to the blender.
  3. Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chile peppers. Heat 4 tablespoons canola oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles and fry until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with hot water and set aside to soak until pliable, about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add the raisins, pumpkin seeds and tortilla pieces to the oil in the skillet and cook, stirring, until the seeds and tortillas are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add to the blender along with the oil from the skillet. Add the softened chiles and puree, pouring in 2 to 3 cups of the soaking liquid to make a thick, smooth sauce.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chile sauce and fry, stirring, until thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add 4 cups of the reserved chicken cooking liquid and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 20 minutes. Add the chocolate and simmer, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts and the sauce reduces, about 20 more minutes. Add the sugar and season with salt.
  6. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce and warm through over low heat. Garnish with the reserved sesame seeds.

CORNMEAL WAFFLES:

 
INGREDIENTS;
  1. 1 3/4 cups buttermilk.
  2. 2 large eggs.
  3. 5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled.
  4. 1 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.
  5. 1 cup yellow cornmeal.
  6. 2 tablespoons sugar.
  7. 2 teaspoons baking powder.
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda.

MIX IT ALL UP AND THROW IT IN AN OLD FASHIONED WAFFLE IRON, COOK TO GOLDEN BROWN, SLATHER WITH BUTTER AND MAPLE SYRUP AND SERVE WITH CRISP BACON!!!

 
FAVORITE LINKS:
WWW.TONYDUQUETTE.COM  HUTTON WILKINSON ON AMAZON.COM, nenasnotes.com, BIJOUXREVIEW.COM
BLOGS YOU FOLLOW:
NENA’SNOTES, BIJOUX REVIEW
ALL PHOTOS FROM PINTEREST PHOTO CREDITS UNKNOWN. 

COLLECTIONS: PAINT BY NUMBER ART AND COLLECTOR ROBERT GROOS

DFFA3B15-94FA-4D44-B215-23A77F245C84Yes, this is a paint by number painting…I think it is a stunner and not what we think about when thinking of this craft.  I saw it at last months Randolph Street Market (the March RSM is Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and 31 from 10 to 5 each day) and thought about doing a story….of course I did!!!!  It immediately brought to mind two of my friends who collect the art. Photo taken with my iPhone.

One collects ballet pieces, here are some…the photos below were taken by me with my iPhone.D4441945-67C8-433C-8727-1C088D1E8908C8615D84-5A21-45BE-B0E8-C0E9BC6DA3A23EEF587B-1F4A-46BF-991E-C9BA62ABA24D

The other has over 400 pieces….I first met, worked with and became friends with Robert Groos, when he was one of the multi-talented Visual Merchandising team at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago and then in charge of Visual in the Highland Park store….his charm and extraordinary creativity would make him a friend to all and his passion for Paint by Number Art was unparalleled. Some of his pieces formed the background across the Store’s Michigan Avenue windows.

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59F7F3A2-128A-46B1-A091-FCDB0D71B271Aren’t they awesome….the art of window display at its finest.

Rob’s first purchase…what a handsome lad….

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Two of his favorites, Roy and Dale…(a Nena’s note…I adored Roy Rogers as a child and dressed as Dale Evans for years at Halloween…all in white with gold studs and fringe, Mom made my outfit, and we got handtooled white leather cowgirl boots when we summered each year in Midland, Texas…yes, you heard that correctly!  Keep following nenasnotes and there won’t be too much you don’t know about me!  Just saying….)

Let me have Rob tell you about his collections in his own words….

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“In 1995 I met a couple who owned an antique store in Chicago.  They had a beautiful, well edited assortment of objects in their store.  One evening they hosted a Gallery Openingthat featured a selection of old Paint By Number paintings theyd collected.   I attended and purchased three beautiful dog paintings from them.  I fell in love with the paintings and decided to start collecting more to compliment them.   Before I knew it I ws searching thrift stores and antique stores all over the midwest to locate PBNs.   I soon discovered that you could bid on PBNs through Ebay and I became passionate about purchasing them there.”

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“Over the years I built a sizable collection which now stands at over 400.  The categories Ive focused on are Dogs, Clowns, Ballet/Ballerinas, Religious, Landscape, Flowers and Birds.  Ive several extremely old paintings that were painted on canvas.  Some are proudly signed and dated by the artists that painted them.  Canvas is the material the original paint by numbers were sold back when Craftmaster first launched them to the market.”

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“In addition to the painted PBNs I have several metal Toleware Paint By Number items:  Two waste cans, a magazine rack, a desk organizer and a small vase.  These are pretty rare and not seen as much as the flat paintings.”

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“In 1997 my Paint By Number collection was featured in Collectibles Magazine along with an article on my apartment and artwork.”

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 “In 2000, I used many of the paintings to create a massive salon style backdrop in the Saks Fifth Avenue, Michigan Avenue windows that featured Marc by Marc Jacobs denim pieces.   Ive also had the pleasure of meeting Dan Robbins who created the Paint By Numbers for Palmer Paint Company in 1950.  

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“Ive stopped collecting the paintings now and have all but two stored safely away.  Id like to sell the collection to someone but would want to sell it intact and not item by item.  It would make an impressive presentation in a very large loft home, or in a restaurant or kitschy business somewhere.”

A million thanks to Rob for sharing his story and his photos with nenasnotes.  As you can see it is a superb and unique collection and if interested in purchasing the artwork in its entirety get in touch with Robert Groos at r.m.groos@gmail.com

This art form is being revived, if you are in need of a new craft project and want to try your hand at this art or want further information, I suggest you go to My Paint By Numbers

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: A WELL BEHAVED WOMAN

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By now you know I am obsessed with historical fiction especially when the book concerns “real” people.  When this exceptionally written book came into my consciousness I knew it would be one I would not only enjoy but would devour and, of course, would want to share with you. I was correct in that assumption.  (As usual, I recommend The Book Stall my Independent Bookseller, as your source when purchasing your books.)

The protagonist is none other than Alva Vanderbilt who married into one of the wealthiest, if not THE wealthiest at the time, American dynasties.  Wealth was new to Alva and the story tells us of a world known to very few.  The Astor’s ruled New York Society, especially their Matriarch, Caroline.  Snubbed by Mrs. Astor, Alva was determined to make her place, along with her husband, William, and the rest of the Vanderbilt family to reach the top of the Gilded Age social scene.  And not only did she do exactly that but did it with grace and class  Fowler takes us into this rarified world via, their exquisite homes, think Marble House (The Biltmore is briefly mentioned), the many homes in New York City.  I particularly enjoyed Alva’s forays into every detail of her many homes and her participation with the noted architect, Richard Hunt, in planning the architecture and each and every phase of the construction of the mansions and the interiors from paint colors, fabrics, to furniture….everything!  Having literally millions to spend she thought out every possible item in her homes and became the personification of elegance of her era.

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Alva Vanderbilt

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William Vanderbilt

Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island

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A couple of the interiors …

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Living in a strained marriage, (I’m not doing spoilers here, if you know the background of the era you know of the scandals) Alva made herself a pilar of New York, Newport, Paris and London society in lifestyle including her Charles Frederick Worth wardrobe (you know I enjoyed those descriptions!), the exquisite entertaining….balls, formal dinners…highlighting the developing of the Arts in New York City, making sure her children were exposed to the best of educations, associating with the “right” people (including Oliver Belmont) while respecting everyone no matter their social status…which I greatly admired.  She was always a philanthropist and became very involved in women’s suffrage.  In many ways she reminds me of our own Bertha Palmer as well as others of her time. It gives us details of the women (or The woman, Alva) behind the wealth which was always in the hands of their husbands, fathers, guardians. Fowler’s eye for detail parallels that of Alva’s…her research is impeccable.  Read it you will be transfixed!

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A couple of books to give you thoughts on the food of the time…

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I’m including a recipe for Beef Wellington, which happens to a favorite of mine to serve at special dinner parties.  This recipe is from Epicurious.com

 

BEEF WELLINGTON

FROM EPICURIOUS.COM

INGREDIENTS

    • a 3 1/2-pound fillet of beef tied with thin sheets of larding fat at room temperature
    • 3/4 pound mushrooms, chopped fine
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 pound pâté de foie gras (available at specialty foods shops) at room temperature
    • 1 pound puff paste or thawed frozen puff pastry plus additional for garnish if desired
    • N/A frozen puff pastry
    • 1 large egg white beaten
    • an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water
    • 1/2 cup Sercial Madeira
    • 2 teaspoons arrowroot dissolved in 1 teaspoon cold water
    • 1 teaspoon water
    • 1/2 cup beef broth
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped black truffles (available at specialty food shops) if desired
    • watercress for garnish if desired

PREPARATION

    1. In a roasting pan roast the beef in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the thermometer registers 120°F. Let the fillet cool completely and discard the larding fat and the strings. Skim the fat from the pan juices and reserve the pan juices.
    2. In a heavy skillet cook the mushrooms in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until all the liquid they give off is evaporated and the mixture is dry, season them with salt and pepper, and let them cool completely. Spread the fillet evenly with the pâté de foie gras, covering the top and sides, and spread the mushrooms evenly over the pâté de foie gras. On a floured surface roll 1 pound of the puff paste into a rectangle about 20- by 12- inches, or large enough to enclose the fillet completely, invert the coated fillet carefully under the middle of the dough, and fold up the long sides of the dough to enclose the fillet brushing the edges of the dough with some of the egg white to seal them. Fold ends of the dough over the fillet and seal them with the remaining egg white. Transfer the fillet, seam side down to a jelly-roll pan or shallow roasting pan and brush the dough with some of the egg wash. Roll out the additional dough and cut the shapes with decorative cutters. Arrange the cutouts on the dough decoratively, brush them with the remaining egg wash, and chill the fillet for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Bake the fillet in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°, and bake the fillet for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the meat thermometer registers 130°F. for medium-rare meat and the pastry is cooked through. Let the fillet stand for 15 minutes.
    3. In a saucepan boil the reserved pan juices and the Madeira until the mixture is reduced by one fourth. Add the arrowroot mixture, the broth, the truffles, and salt and pepper to taste and cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring, being careful not to let it boil, for 5 minutes, or until it is thickened. Loosen the fillet from the jelly-roll pan, transfer it with two spatulas to a heated platter, and garnish it with watercress. Serve the fillet, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices, with the sauce.

Serves 8.

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