You always throw fabulous dinner parties. What’s your secret? I love special food, and I am a maniac for beautiful porcelain and china and crystal. Even when I am alone, I always eat at a beautiful table, with one setting, because I want to please myself. And when I have parties, I make all the decisions about what will work with the food, the wine, the flowers, the guests. I love to change the combinations of colours and textures according to my mood. It’s a great passion of mine, so that’s why I got the idea to write The Emperor’s Table, a book about recipes and table settings. What are your criteria for a good party guest? Fun, witty, well-mannered, and goodlooking. What is your policy on assigning seats? If it’s a seated dinner, of course you have to assign seats. If there are two tables, I like to separate the couples. If it’s a buffet dinner, there are no seat assignments. If you must cancel a party, what is the most proper way to do so? A personal letter explaining what you can explain and not mentioning what you can’t. What’s the biggest social faux pas at a dinner party? To arrive when the rest of the guests are already seated. What is the best gift a guest has ever given you? More than 30 years ago, someone gave me a miniature throne made of vermeil, from Russia, from the period of the last emperor. You can use it to serve salt. And since then I have developed a huge collection of little thrones just like it. I have small, medium, and big—almost 70 thrones. It takes a lot of time to find them, but I love when people bring them to
Two amazing party hosts draw our attention to the little details behind the
most magical soirées me too. You’re on your yacht right now. What is the best food to serve at sea? Fish, of course. Anchovies on toasted bread is a great remedy for seasickness. Your collection of tableware is huge. How do you keep track of it all? I have different sets of china for different places—New York, London, Gstaad, on my boat. Once, when I had difficulty sleeping, instead of counting sheep I counted my plates. I can’t remember what number I got to! What do you eat when you’re alone? I am very attentive to what I eat. I only eat organic things. I don’t eat sugar, and I don’t drink milk. I use almond milk, and I eat pasta that is made with Kamut, a special kind of flour. And I barely eat meat anymore— mostly just fish, vegetables, pasta, and rice. That’s it. I always start with a salad with lots of things in it: Avocado, a little poached egg, artichokes, radishes. Also, I never mix pasta and fish in the same meal. If you could have one last meal on earth, what would it be? A plate of spaghetti! Do you have a favourite meal? I am Italian, so I am not so crazy for breakfast. I have breakfast in my bedroom—tea with lemon juice and fruit. That’s it. What is most important is lunchtime, and then dinner is very light. The secret to staying well is to not eat very much in the evening. But one thing I always have, with lunch and dinner, all my life, is sherbet and a piece of cake. Nothing complicated or heavy, just a little apple with streusel, and always a fruit sherbet. Every single day, twice.