“I’m not much of a white tablecloth guy, but I do like to entertain our partners, clients and architects over a good meal. I tend to pick places that offer a combination of a beautifully designed space, excellent food and drinks and an outdoor element, if possible. I love to dine alfresco.
Outside the office people let their guard down, and nowhere is that truer than on the golf course. You’ll learn more about a person’s values over a round of golf than you will in a boardroom. One of my favourite places to take partners such as Ian Schrager is The Bridge in The Hamptons. The clubhouse is all glass and light with stunning views over Great Peconic Bay, and the fish and vegetables are locally sourced. My favourite dish, though, is the veggie burger with fries.
In New York I find breakfasts very productive and like The Regency on Park Avenue for meetings with everyone from Bjarke Ingels, who is designing our biggest residential and hotel project, The Eleventh, in downtown Manhattan, to people from the mayor’s office about restoration projects. Bjarke sketched the designs on a napkin, right there. The smoked salmon and eggs Benedict is my breakfast go-to. At another breakfast meeting at The Carlyle on the Upper East Side I sealed our relationship with the London-based Children’s Investment Fund, leading to a $1.25bn loan. It’s a great place if you need privacy, and the egg-white omelette with cheese and onions is excellent.
Most people prefer lunches and I try to keep them to an hour or less. Many of our partners have offices near ours on Madison Avenue, so I’ll take them to Milos for fresh, light seafood, or to the Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel where I love the grilled cheese sandwich with crème de truffe and roasted tomato soup.
Many meetings over food lead to projects, including one memorable lunch in Berlin with David Chipperfield at the Grill Royal, with its delightful views of the River Spree. I had admired his understated style and use of unusual materials like terrazzo stone, so it was over North Sea sole that we discussed his designing The Bryant, his first residential building in the US.
I find dinners more relaxed and as my partner is a wine collector his burgundy and bordeaux selections often play a part. In downtown New York I like Charlie Bird for the private dining room – as well as the excellent fish dishes, such as Montauk fluke with salted chilli, cilantro and lime – a hit with our Singapore-based partners. I was in Shanghai recently to discuss the development of an island in Shenzhen and had dinner with potential partners at Mr & Mrs Bund. They chose us because they admire New York as a port city and are increasingly focused on healthy food, wellbeing and air quality – all things that matter to our business too. The seared turbot is a must-have, and the design – all chandeliers and dark wood in an art deco building – is very elegant.
A lot of the entertaining I do relates to the design side of the company and I recently met with Patrick Gilles and Dorothée Boissier at Jean-Georges at The Connaught in London to discuss finishes for our hotel project. Standout dishes include crispy salmon sushi and seabass with crusted nuts. Dinner in Miami at Cecconi’s, with Tracey Emin and Ugo Rondinone, reacquainted me with its eggplant parmigiana and we acquired artworks for several of our buildings.
A setting doesn’t have to be fancy or formal to be productive. I always look for a mix of architecture, art and good food because it makes people happy – and that leads to good business.”