Party throwing comes naturally to Louisa Young and Lexi Ritsch, the duo behind Hamptons Aristocrat, a farm-to-fete business on Long Island, New York. Louisa, a chef who had her own catering business, knows her way around a kitchen, and Lexi, an event designer and former restaurant general manager, is no stranger to service.
But the vision for their company didn’t fully crystallize until they bought a 1969 Aristocrat Lo-Liner (picture a cute retro trailer) off Craigslist, which became the namesake of their brand. After converting the caravan to serve apps and drinks, they embarked on a stream of food truck gigs, weekend grocery deliveries, off-site weddings, and dinner party drop-offs, which quickly grew into demand for a full-service event planning and catering operation. (All services are still available for customers; go to hamptonsaristocrat.com for more info.)
Needing a headquarters, the pair just opened Salt Drift Farm, a commercial kitchen, farmhouse-style eatery, and gathering space in Bridgehampton, New York. It’s the kind of place where you can stop by for a quick daytime bite or throw a big brunch for your #squad, which is exactly what Louisa and Lexi like to do on a rare afternoon off. On the guest list today are the local growers and suppliers they work with—all women, all friends.
Everyone brings their bounty: wine from Ros Baiz and her daughter Perry Bliss of the Old Field Vineyards in Southold, baked goods from pastry chef Carissa Waechter’s shop in East Hampton, and so on. After cocktails and shrimp corn dogs outside, the ladies file in for the main meal.
The menu, like most Hamptons Aristocrat fare, is seasonal and fuss-free—whole fish marinated the night before, fresh greens, and steamed clams—and so is the atmosphere, from the family-style platters of food to the loose bouquets of ranunculus that line the table. Louisa, Lexi, and the rest of the women toast the summer ahead that’s sure to be busy but fun—and definitely full of good eats.
"If you cook with what's in season from the farmers' market, you don't need difficult dishes with a million ingredients," says Louisa.
Chalk artist and illustrator Kara Hoblin creates a custom drawing for Salt Drift Farm, which officially launched in April in Bridgehampton, New York.
"A vintage chalkboard is great for posting your menu," says Lexi. "Or use it as a backdrop for photos."
Louisa and Lexi cut and arrange blooms from Sag Harbor Florist for the dining table.
Plating feels too formal for good friends, so Louisa and Lexi set out dishes for guests to pass. Dark flatware and plain black and white serving pieces lend some modern edge to the rustic setting.
Chevron paper adds a nice touch of pattern to a platter of chilled salmon cakes.
It doesn’t get fresher than hand-delivered loaves from Carissa Waechter of Carissa’s The Bakery in East Hampton, New York.
Guests at the party include Katie Baldwin (second from left) of Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett and Louisa’s college pal Patrice Kiely (far right), an ordained minister who has officiated weddings for Hamptons Aristocrat.
Hampton's Aristocrat Brunch Menu
Steamed Clams with Salsa Verde
"Pair the clams with bread so guests can soak up the broth," says Louisa. "And toss the pan drippings from the fish with quinoa or couscous and serve as a side."
Recipe: Try Hamptons Aristocrat's Steamed Clams with Salsa Verde
Roasted Whole Fish with Lemon & Herbs
Recipe: Try Hamptons Aristocrat's Roasted Whole Fish with Lemon & Herbs
Roasted-Beet Salad with Parmesan Mousse
Recipe: Try Hamptons Aristocrat's Roasted-Beet Salad with Parmesan Mousse
Mixed Lettuces with Red Wine & Shallot Vinaigrette
Recipe: Try Hamptons Aristocrat's Mixed Lettuces with Red Wine & Shallot Vinaigrette