What It Is: Lauren Bush Lauren hosts Goop and Cadillac’s “Road to Table” Dinner in the Hamptons with 3-Michelin-starred chef Christopher Kostow
Who Tried It: Sheila Baylis, PEOPLE Bodies editor
Level of Difficulty: 7/10 (Driving in the Hamptons is no farm-to-table picnic and I had major trouble deciding on my outfit.)
Gwyneth Paltrow‘s lifestyle site Goop can throw a kooky party, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there was no vaginal steaming or space-age healing stickers at this down-to-earth event.
Hosted by CEO of FEED Lauren Bush Lauren (niece of former president George W. Bush and daughter-in-law to Ralph Lauren), the day had three parts: drive, dig and dine. A portion of the proceeds from the hefty $1300-a-ticket (per pair) went to FEED Supper, a project that provides meals to hungry children and families across the U.S.
We were provided with a 2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-in to drive to the Hamptons. The car is roomy, has all the bells and whistles and saves on gas with its hybrid electric motor. My husband drove, and he was sure that “the car is driving itself!” since the steering system gently nudges you away from changing lanes inadvertently. You probably could take your hands off the steering wheel for awhile and be okay, not that I’m recommending that.
The seat would also vibrate if you got too close to another car, which was sort of fun at first, but happened a lot on the ever-crowded Montauk Highway. (We encountered a couple of Hamptons drivers in need of anger management or at least some Goop stress-relief flower essences.) We were a little worse for wear when we arrived, because no matter how smart the car, there’s no avoiding Hamptons traffic.
My favorite feature was the driver’s display, which allowed Mr. Baylis to keep his eyes on the road while following GPS directions to Amber Waves Farm.
We arrived at the farm and were given Hunter rain boots, sun hats and cute gardening tools and then encouraged to explore the farm and “forage.” (I think of foraging as a wilderness survival skill, not a curated Hamptons experience, but we picked some tomatoes.)
It felt wonderful to be outside after the long car ride, and Amber Waves Farm is run by two enterprising young women, Amanda Merrow and Katie Baldwin, who involve local families in their sustainable and organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program.
There were handmade sodas and passed hors d’oeuvres, and we met Chef Kostow from The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley. He’s the third youngest chef ever to receive three Michelin stars, and would be responsible for our dinner that night.
We drove the Caddy to a lovely but empty house in Amagansett, set up entirely for our event. After all that foraging (Chef Kostow later pointed out that the correct term is “harvesting”), we were quite thirsty, so we gulped down some local rosé and strawberry-infused cocktails and tried to mingle.
I hadn’t gotten much of a read on the crowd, since attendees drove to the Hamptons in separate Cadillacs, arriving at different times and then scattering out into the Amber Waves fields.
As we gathered at the house, the group was made up of mostly young women and a few couples, and the stylish New Yorkers I spoke with were in the PR and fashion industries. We sat at long communal tables together, so you really got to know your neighbors, for better or worse. (Am I the only one who hates communal dining?) Luckily, we sat next to lovely and entertaining twin sisters who told us harrowing tales of getting lost while trying to escape from New York and then hitting something on the road that made their Cadillac smell terribly for the majority of the drive.
Speaking of surprises, the menu included an enormous hunk of fatty meat that I just did not expect to be served to the Paltrow crowd. There were lots of lovely vegetables from the farm — delicious grilled cucumbers, lettuces and herbs — but the twins and I (now my BFFs and also not big meat eaters) had trouble navigating the beef ribs. My husband was okay with the huge slab, but he doesn’t quite fit into the Goop demograhic. We all adored the corn with butter and dried yeast, though. I heard several mumbled mouthfuls say “this is the best corn ever.”
The Full Menu:
Carissa’s bread with cultured butter
Grilled cucumbers with sea beans and dill
Raw shellfish from Gosman’s Dock
Salad of charred avocado
Lettuces from Amber Waves Farm with “good seasons” vinaigrette, hearth-dried herbs and garlic, olive oil and white wine vinegar
Grilled corn with butter and dried yeast
Beef ribs grilled over cabernet barrels, beets dried over the fire
Peach Mochi cake cream sweetened with the Preserve’s Syrup
The event was unique and carefully organized with just the right amount of Goopiness. Trying a new car was fun, and even though I still think the car can drive itself, they hired us a driver for the way home since we had been drinking. It was altogether wholesome to get out of the city and onto the farm, and all-in-all the dinner was tasty, but those used to Michelin-starred restaurants may have left wanting more.
The most inspiring part of the event was Lauren Bush Lauren’s passion for her social business, FEED. “Every product we make and sell has a number on it, and that signifies the number of meals we’re able to donate with the sale of each product,” she says. “We’re trying to make what is otherwise a massive overwhelming issue of world hunger more tangible and accessible and solution-oriented to the average consumer.”
It’s hard to rationalize a $1300 weekend outing, even in the Hamptons, but it was for a great cause, and a welcome alternative to a gala or more typical fundraising event. Foodies got the chance to get their hands dirty at the farm and ask questions of a star chef, and I’m sure Gwyneth will be glad to know that I’m going to start putting dried yeast on my corn.