Life of the Party
Mary Giuliani has always prized simplicity, with a twist. Though the New York and Woodstock-based caterer has Bradley Cooper and Matt Damon on her client list, she serves finger foods from her childhood, tacos and mozzarella and, most important for Giuliani, pigs in a blanket, made memorable from attending many bar and bat mitzvahs in her childhood. The result is a menu that, while familiar to anyone, is nonetheless unique to Mary Giuliani Catering & Events. It’s this deceptive simplicity that is the guiding focus for her first book, The Cocktail Party (Ballantine Books, 2015).
Her life story follows a similarly off-kilter path. Giuliani never thought she would pursue a career in food. In fact, she wanted to be a writer. The Long Island native went to Georgetown and studied English with a theater minor, always looking for stories, composing narratives in her notes instead of paying attention in class. When in 2000 she started working at the catering company DM Cuisine, it was supposed to be a temporary gig, just one in a series of others that included stints checking coats, working as a talent agent, and helping to fulfill wishes at the Make a Wish Foundation.
Random as this may have seemed, there was a precedent in her family. Her mother was a “great cook,” Giuliani remembers, and her grandmother pioneered the hospitality industry out on Montauk, Long Island, running hotels and hosting parties for everyone, she notes in her book, from fishermen to political candidates. Every summer Giuliani went out to the shore with her parents, where she would sneak into her grandmother’s afterhours cocktail parties, attended by all manner of New Yorkers, invited specially for the occasion.