George Christy Talks About Richard Irving, The Ivys, Mitzi Gaynor, Casa de Christmas and More!
A new word for the New Year!
Vodkacita, which we first heard in Tijuana. “A vodkacita on the rocks, please.”
For those who savor a sip of Stoli Elite, or Chopin or Ketel One, may we add another selection to their vodka repertoire.
Smooth and sublime, and the favorite now of The Ivy’s Richard Irving, a master chef whose beautiful daughter India von Kersting Irving, author, actress and art critic, has donned the toque blanche of Big Daddy.
Cooking and baking with love. As India did growing up at the two Ivys.
For their holiday dinner, she and Richard prepared eggplant parmigiana, gnocchi light as gossamer, herb-scented rice-filled baked tomatoes, filet mignon seasoned a la Sophia Loren’s Neapolitan recipe. One taste better than t’uther.
And ho, ho, ho. A sweet table with apple-blackberry crumble, a gorgeous prune cake, bread pudding prepared with brioche, and Miss India’s Angelic Delight (angel food cake).
Sparkling with teardrop crystal candelabra, French porcelain and the proper 36-inch linen napery recommended by Escoffier, the Christmas table appeared picture-perfect.
Serving us from the kitchen, chez Irving, India, dressed in Azzediine Alaia, as was mom, Lynn von Kerstsing, who was lending a polite hand. They are the two beauties we admired and have known and adored since the reign of James The Second.
They entertain with a heralded panache at their Villa Abbondonza in West Hollywood, the former estate of Katharine Hepburn’s favored director George Cukor.
And, of course, by day they are humming at the iconic Ivy and Ivy at the Shore dining rooms and at the Dolce Isola cafe. Lynn additionally addresses her treasure chest shop, Indigo Seas, that’s adjacent to the Ivy on North Robertson, popular with Ralph Lauren and spiffy folks.
An aside about the great Mr. Cukor. At a long-ago luncheon visit, he acknowledged that “talent is not enough … a movie star shines only when their skin receives the light from the camera, and that is it.”
Casa Christmas it becomes every December when Mitzi Gaynor goes all out with garlands of multi-colored lights, evergreens with red ribbon bows, armsful of peonies at her comfortable new digs in Beverly Hills.
Count on housekeeper Abby’s guacamole with her house-made chips, and Mitzi, a born cooker, laying out a medley of beef bourguignon, turkey loaf, shrimp New Orleans style.
Seated at cozy round tables were Shera Danese Falk in a killer body-hugging Karl Lagerfeld bustier and charmer Joe Tremaine, who annually choreographs our philanthropic Share wives into local Rockettes for the Boomtown Share show.
Hither and yon we glimpsed Turner Movie Classics host Ben Mankiewucz, whose dad Frank served as Bobby Kennedy’s press secretary; Cher and Mitzi’s designing genius Bob Mackie, Bob’s associate Joe McFate.
Meeting and greeting were Nigel Lithgow, producer of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance; realtor Tina Stern with husband Keith Allison of Paul Revere & the Raiders; Mitzi’s managers Rene Reyes and Shane Rosamonda, who represent cabaret artist Jean-Paul Vignon and the Lennon Sisters.
Also: handsome Navy Ensign Hunter Wood with sister Whitney and mom Terrie; Patricia Ward Kelly, who travels the world lecturing on husband Gene Kelly. Pianist Gary Nesteruk; Kip Grimm; Kate Kahn; Jeffrey Becker; dancer Sonja Haney with husband Don Eichner, director of The Gin Game; Steven Byrket, who oversees the El Cholo franchise.
A pleasure to chat with Tony Charmoli, choreographer of Mitzi’s fabled Razzle Dazzle specials, available on Netflix. They are a world unto their own, with Mitzi leading the troops with high-flying bravura. Hale and hearty at 95, Tony walks every day, hikes, and credits those Minnesota roots for his strength.
Arriving with Tony, film animator Paul Manchester discussed a strange custom in China, where a friend, 6’6” tall, teaches English to the rural young and elderly.
“He’s been there six years, and his height fascinates them. Apparently, the Chinese think nothing of groping him casually and quickly, both women and men, on the street or wherever.
“Bewildering, after all these years … but he shrugs it’s meaningless.”