Cooking

Supporting Roll

A celebrity caterer dishes on cooking for Alec Baldwin and other stars
Inside a Celebrity Catering Company
Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The life of a caterer might not immediately strike you as glamorous, but if you’re celebrity caterers Lexi Ritsch and Louisa Young, your playground is the Hamptons, your clients are Emmy winners and your delivery vehicle is a restored 1969 Aristocrat caravan, which converts into a bar. For the past few years, their company, Hamptons Aristocrat, has served the high-end community of New York’s It vacation destination for the rich and famous.

So how did they end up feeding brown-butter lobster rolls to Alec Baldwin?

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Ritsch started out as a wedding planner and personal grocery shopper in the Hamptons, but she noticed that “what people wanted, meals-wise, was in between what was available.” Private chefs were too onerous an option, and most of the caterers were too old school, offering only tents and white tablecloths. Ritsch’s clients started asking her to do catered luncheons, using ingredients she was already sourcing for them from all the farms in the Hamptons.

When Ritsch met Young at a networking event, the two came up with the idea to start a new kind of event and meal delivery company that removed the hassle of the traditional style of catering. The food would arrive ready to eat, the decor would be breezy and casual, and the ingredients would be local. “When you have a Hamptons house, hosting just naturally comes along with that,” Young says. “But our clients already have this gaggle of people, from kids to nannies to staff. It can be challenging to feed everyone.” Hamptons Aristocrat aims to be the elegant but unfussy solution. Armed with fresh-cut flowers, recycled wooden boards and Weck jars (think mason jars but cooler looking), Ritsch and Young’s aesthetic is more pastoral than panache.

Smoked salmon | Photo: Courtesy of Hamptons Aristocrat

Once the duo started doing full-on catered events, word quickly spread throughout the island, and one day, an unnamed but rather famous late-night TV host got in touch.

He asked if Hamptons Aristocrat would cater a family party. Ritsch and Young parked their caravan in his backyard, doling out lobster nachos, shrimp corn dogs and pulled pork dumplings to pool partygoers of all ages.

Now, this party has become an annual gig, and this particular celeb has made Hamptons Aristocrat his go-to for entertaining. Every weekend, Ritsch says, she and Young will supply him with sausages, peppers and Italian buns, so he can grill hoagies, his favorite meal, for his friends. They even grow a special variety of sweet Italian pepper called the Cubano on Amber Waves Farm.

Ritsch and Young know what their clients want. When it comes to celebrities, “they don’t want to be out and about in town at restaurants, where people are trying to take their photo. People are attracted to us, because we allow them that kind of discretion,” Ritsch explains.

Another member of Hamptons Aristocrat’s highly exclusive client list is a former child star-turned-fashion designer you’ve probably heard of...

“She has very sophisticated tastes,” Ritsch says of the client, who hired them to cater a friend’s birthday party. So Hamptons Aristocrat served a spice-heavy menu centered on Moroccan couscous with lamb chops. There was an evening slumber party for the kids, so Ritsch and Young dropped off their signature farm-to-feast taco party—complete with fresh tortillas, sliced rib eye, chili-crusted cauliflower and homemade guac.

Out of all the unreal moments that come with being a caterer to some of the most well-known people in the world, the most memorable for the pair involves someone who has become a pretty familiar fixture on Saturday Night Live. Yes, it's Alec Baldwin.

Brown-butter lobster rolls | Photo: Courtesy of Hamptons Aristocrat

Ritsch recalls, “He was at a birthday party we were catering, and we were doing these brown-butter lobster rolls. He was pulling out of the driveway. We had parked our caravan there, and we were in the window, sending out food. He backed his car up to our truck and said, ‘Is this a drive-thru?’” How could they say no? “So we passed him some lobster rolls from our caravan straight into his car!”

This month marks the beginning of Hamptons Aristocrat’s season, which extends through the fall. Both Ritsch and Young have settled into Hamptons living quite nicely—between the two of them, they have three dogs, a horse, a garden and a clamming license—all the makings of a picture-perfect beach lifestyle. But they’re not in the Hamptons for a seaside getaway. They wake up at 5:30 a.m. every day and work 18 hours straight. It doesn't bother them.

“Bravo actually approached us about a year ago about doing a show about Hamptons Aristocrat and all the drama that happens in the Hamptons,” Young says. But they turned the network down. “We told them, ‘You won’t find any of that here.’ I mean, we’re in an oasis. There are farms, vineyards, beaches and cute towns. What’s not to love?”

Priya Krishna is a New York-based food writer by way of Texas. Follow her for embarrassing family vacation photos at @PKgourmet.

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