The fact that model, actor, interior designer and Southampton native T.R. Pescod is an expert host should come as no surprise—after all, he counts Ina Garten as a longtime friend. For Beach, Pescod created a sublime Saturday luncheon at his North Sea home for a Peconic Bay-front afternoon of friends, food and, of course, rosé.
It’s a bright, warm afternoon in Southampton. The scent of lilac and lily of the valley hangs heavily in the air. Inside a spare gray house, a ruggedly gorgeous male model is setting out salads and tabbouleh in chunky marble bowls on a thick mahogany counter. Outside, on a generous porch furnished with black wicker overlooking a lawn sloping down to the water, chic men and glamorous women holding glasses of cold wine laugh at the exploits of a tiny golden puppy gamboling on the grass. Beyond, a vintage wooden table is set for lunch, dressed with old French linens and casual garden bouquets. And just when you think you’ve stepped into a Ralph Lauren pictorial, a beautiful child with a mass of blonde curls skips across the greensward.
But nature has a way of bringing even the most heavenly of scenes right back to earth.
Look down and you’ll see bits of goose dung in the grass. Earlier, one of the glamorous women had come out with a trowel and started flicking turds down the lawn.
“I’m on poop duty,” she explains. Even into a charmed life, some goose poop must fall.
Whose charmed life is this?
It’s that of T.R. Pescod, who grew up in the Hamptons and started learning about entertaining by managing Ina Garten’s shop, the Barefoot Contessa, when he was 15 years old. Says Pescod, “I learned a lot from Ina. Her party philosophy—that you don’t have to do absolutely everything yourself, exhausting yourself before your guests arrive—is one I still follow. The most important part of a party is for you to enjoy it!” He loves to host lunches in the summer around the pool or at the beach; in most cases the festivities go into early evening—as long as the rosé is flowing. (This writer can attest to that.)
After university, Pescod lived in Paris for three years, where he honed his cooking skills and learned how to shop for quality ingredients. He also bought all the old French linens he could find at flea markets. “I now have tons of old napkins embroidered with family crests and initials,” he says. “I’ll throw old linen sheets or bedspreads over a table outside to dress it up. In Prague, I bought green stemware that perfectly complements the maple leaves in the backyard. I want my table to have an elegant, eclectic but not fussy look, and my guests to feel they can put their oversized French napkins on their heads and be silly—which has happened often.”
As a model and actor, Pescod has traveled and lived all over the world. “I’ve always wanted to explore and learn everything I can, and embrace every new experience that comes my way,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate to meet so many talented people—the people whose business it is to shape the modern day aesthetic. I’ve been able to learn from tastemakers.”
His sophisticated taste is evident in his home, which he designed himself despite a complete lack of architectural training. The bedroom tower resembles the lighthouses that dot America’s East Coast; the interior has a Swedish feel, with painted wooden boards everywhere. “I did a number of shoots in beautiful lake houses in the countryside of Sweden,” Pescod says. “Those houses had the most beautiful weathered wood planking, milky colors and not a stitch of plasterboard on the walls. When I told my contractor I didn’t want any sheetrock he almost had a heart attack. On Nantucket the previous summer, I’d become obsessed with watchtowers, widow’s walks and lighthouses. I incorporated all these things into my home in a modern way, while maintaining the Hamptons vernacular.”
After building this beautiful house, Pescod realized how much he enjoyed the process of design. His new design company, TRP Design, shares his inspirations and his many years observing and learning from the best and experiencing different cultures with clients.
This early summer afternoon, Pescod serves a casual weekend lunch inspired by his recent travels to Morocco and Turkey. Chicken from the grill with a Moroccan spice rub is paired with quinoa tabbouleh, cold spiced carrots and arugula salad with pumpkin seeds and orange segments soaked in rosewater, with a lemon-honey vinaigrette. For dessert, figs with honey are accompanied by almond and chocolate macaroons. Everything is washed down with plenty of chilled rosé.
“I learned in Paris that it’s what you put into a recipe that shows in the end. It truly is about the quality of food, not the quantity,” Pescod says. “I always get my chicken from Kings Farm, around the corner from my house. And the produce at Halsey Farm Stand in Water Mill is the best on the eastern end of Long Island. They have the most amazing variety of greens, and the sweetest and best corn anywhere. They also offer cheeses from Mecox Dairy, which I love to serve with local honeycomb and fresh bread from Blue Duck.”
The guest list is a mixture: some heavy hitters in the design world, like Steven Gambrel, the well-known designer; portrait artist Beth Rundquist; Quinn Pofahl, vice president of creative presentation at Ralph Lauren; and Lisa Bowles, owner of East Hampton’s Roark. There are old friends like Bethelle Desmond, a life coach, and neighbor Mats Carlston with his daughter, Alva, the child model. From the world of real estate come brokers Fiona Dorst and Oliver Brown, as well as James Anderson, founder of The Anderson Group real estate marketing firm. The financial realm was represented by wealth management consultant Bruce Holley, and Chris Connors, who spent the past five years working for the Obama Administration and is now developing a new business. Last but not least are Sailor the Labradoodle puppy and James the Jack Russell. James particularly enjoys the tidbits of leftover chicken I sneak him.
Good design, good food, good friends: It all adds up to the charmed life of T.R. Pescod.