BlackBook Exclusive: Savvy Holiday Entertaining Tips From Omar Hernandez of ‘Omar at Vaucluse’

Image by Liam McMullan

 

In a city of celebrity restaurateurs and jet-setting bartenders, Omar Hernandez perhaps could be granted the informal title of “Most Happening Host” – having spent the last five years decisively charming the downtown beau monde and creative classes at his eponymous private club Omar’s.

The West Village hotspot – known for drawing star power the likes of Bella Hadid, Marc Jacobs and Madonna – closed this past spring. But Omar himself quickly moved uptown, to partner up with celebrity chef Michael White. Their newest venture, Omar at Vaucluse, is an Upper East Side restaurant-within-a-restaurant (N.B. – The a-listers have enthusiastically followed him north), with its own stylish space and very international menu – flaunting exquisitely turned out caviar, oysters, cacio e pepe and chicken tagine, to compliment the obviously electric atmosphere.

We caught up for a chat with Omar about his new life above 14th Street; and, with the holidays immediately upon us, asked him to enlighten us as to his most essential tips for successful seasonal entertaining.

 

Omar at Vaucluse Image by Liz Clayman

 

You are a noted host in possibly the most demanding city in the world. What is your secret to making guests feel welcome?

I always try to meet my guests, and I am able to create that encounter, which is inter-subjective, where we meet for real. We live in a society where everyone has become some form of commodity, leaving room for meeting people for the fun of it. That works in New York City, and everywhere in the world. I love what I do!

What drew you to work with Michael White and Vaucluse?

It was totally synergy with Michael’s partner and Altamarea Group founder Ahmass Fakhany. We collectively developed the story line of this idea of ​​creating an experience within a restaurant space, almost rebellious and somehow obvious. This whole idea of ​​food, leisure and entertainment keeps moving so fast we can barely catch up in our business. But having a Michelin Star chef at the helm of the kitchen is a reason for pride and a dream come true.

 

Omar at Vaucluse Image by Liz Clayman

 

You made your name in downtown New York. What is different about forwarding your brand of hospitality uptown?

Downtown – below 14th Street – has been the epicenter of nightlife and all things fun for the last 35 years; its creative, unorthodox ways of socializing [contributed] a lot to what made my space unique. But I’ve been thinking about coming uptown for a couple of years; it felt like the Upper East Side was one of the last neighborhoods that has kept its social DNA almost intact…slightly underserved, and with an understanding of lifestyle that made it very appealing. It does not hurt to be at the elegant corner of Park Ave & 63rd Street.

What has been most interesting about the Vaucluse experience?

That I cannot do it all by myself, and that I’ve needed partners who are willing to go the extra mile to achieve “funcellence” – instead of succumbing to the existential dread of the ordinary.

 

Omar at Vaucluse Image by Liz Clayman

 

Omar’s Tips for Holiday Entertaining

Try to offer a Ketotonic driven dinner during the holidays. The recovery is much easier, leaving more room for imbibing.

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Download the whole album A Very Kacey Christmas from country singer Kacey Musgraves…and get chicky with it.

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In this age of “experiencing,” remain creative and spontaneous when it comes to entertaining. For example, during your holiday dinner parties, to entertain your guests, hire an Instagram Content Curator to update, and fine tune your social media apps. Enforce some form of dress code, such as watercolor eyeshadows for the ladies, and have some available to apply at the party. If your budget permits, hire a makeup artist to be on site, and create some fun moments with your guests – like, “men are welcome.” Also, a viewing-dinner-party mixed in during Thanksgiving will bring out the holiday spirit: like, in Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles, “Kurt Russell Will Make You Believe in Santa Claus.”

 

Omar at Vaucluse Image by Liz Clayman

 

Do not under any circumstances allow, encourage or talk politics with / among your guests while entertaining this holiday season.

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If you’d rather not entertain, and need a quick getaway with your significant other, escape to Iceland around the holidays; it’s a short, easy flight from New York (4.5 hours). Upon arrival – since most flights are overnight – head straight to the Blue Lagoon geothermal pool, rich in silica and minerals, to get rid of your jet lag, while waiting for hotel check-in time. Book a room at The ION Adventure Hotel, 45 minutes outside of Reykjavík (and a member of Design Hotels), take a hike to the Blue Ice Sólheimjökull glacier, or do an inside-the-glacier tour – afterwards you may be offered a Suntory Hibiki 21 Years Old on the freshest bluest ice on earth. When it comes to food, stick to the classic fish and chips – Iceland has plenty to offer.

 

 

Omar at Vaucluse Image by Liz Clayman
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