Welcome to the new Kitchen Chat series called A Taste of Luxury, History and Hospitality. In this first episode, we will visit The Pierre New York, A Taj Hotel. This iconic place has defined luxury and hospitality since 1930 in New York City. The culinary history is epic in that Auguste Escoffier, known as the father of the world’s chefs, was the opening chef at The Pierre and even designed the kitchen. As a frequent guest of the hotel and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, I wanted to learn more about The Pierre. Here is the video link to this special Kitchen Chat.
Michael Mignano, the Executive Chef/Culinary Director at The Pierre aptly describes the hotel as epitomizing “Timeless New York City luxury.” Hollywood stars and royalty have graced the hotel for almost one hundred years. Francois Olivier Luiggi, General Manager at The Pierre shares fascinating stories about Coco Chanel, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Karl Lagerfeld staying at The Pierre. The hotel continues its hallmark of luxury today with its extravagant galas, fundraisers and weddings, and Chef Mignano approaches each dish for each celebration with thoughtful “Sophisticated Fun.” In 2023, The Met Gala honored Karl Lagerfeld. Chef Mignano’s preparation of exquisite amenities for The Met Gala celebrations involved extensive research about Karl Lagerfeld. After discovering that Lagerfeld believed that the height of luxury was toast and European butter, Mignano included that delicacy in his presentation.
To celebrate the history of The Pierre, an in-house museum has just opened at the hotel, and Francois-Olivier Luiggi provided a behind the scenes tour. He mentioned that the hotel continues to receive memorabilia from guests and family members of guests. Much of that has been included in the curation along with special plates, an apple peeler from 1930, photographs of the stars and most importantly original menus designed by Auguste Escoffier. Luiggi was astounded to learn when he first came to The Pierre as general manager that Escoffier was the opening chef and even designed the kitchen. Escoffier was in his eighties when he was brought to New York by Charles Pierre, the original owner of the hotel. A quote by Karl Lagerfeld placed next to his photograph captures the historic essence of this hotel: “Distances in the city were measured only by how far they were from the Pierre. It was a sort of milestone for me.”
Hospitality is innate, effervescent and bountiful at The Pierre. Each guest is greeted and celebrated by the staff. The concierge team will help curate the ultimate experience for the guests if requested. From the staff’s perspective, The Pierre is their home that they are sharing with us. As Chef Mignano explains, “The best essence of hospitality is sharing your home and this is something that The Pierre does unequivocally very well, and we’ve done since 1930 and will continue to do for another hundred years.” The employees are dedicated and hardworking, including Chef Santiago, Chef Mignano’s most senior culinary team member who has been there since 1981. During a private tour of the kitchen, Chef Mignano introduced me to Chef Santiago representing the continuity of hospitality. The foundation of hospitality began with the founder, Charles Pierre. Etched upon a bronzed plaque honoring Charles Pierre are his words: “Be courteous – This is the most important rule of all.” The full tribute reads: “Erected by. his organization as a tribute to a lovable and benevolent employer and in testimony of our continued fidelity to his golden rules of service to others.” As a frequent guest, I have personally experienced this extraordinary hospitality. Everyone greets you by name. The rooms provide both comfort and luxury, and you truly feel like you are at home.
Luxury, history and hospitality continue to be the cornerstones of The Pierre New York, a Taj Hotel. It’s a wonderful place to visit and dine.
Savor the day!