Jack’s Wife Freda is one of our fave restaurants for a thousand reasons including the food (haloumi to the face!), the décor, and the tunes that play while we eat. But the thing that we love most about Jack’s Wife Freda is how warm and welcoming the atmosphere is: how it feels like you were personally invited, every time. Much of that is thanks to owner Maya Jankelowitz, who’s chic but totally approachable, and (as we learned when we went to hang with her) so, so, fun. We met up with Maya to make some special holiday cocktails, listen to the soundtrack from Cocktail and pick her brain about how she likes to (throw a) party. Below, recipes for a Hot Toddy and a Bootsy Collins, and Maya’s thoughts on hosting.
How would you describe your entertaining style?
Letting people be. Open, accepting. Introducing everyone to each other. Plates are full, drinks are full; ultimately, hearts are full.
What are your favorite party snacks to serve?
Finger foods: haloumi cheese, zucchini chips, mini kale Greek salads.
5 essentials to a great party?
Lighting, candles, music, and lots of food and drink.
What are 3 things that always in your fridge?
Butter, hot sauce and Persian cucumbers.
What kind of music complements your entertaining style? Any good songs to share?
Music is so important to us; our playlist is a soundtrack of our lives (and our childrens’ lives). We gather and collect each song we love and want to share, and keep it on one playlist that we listen to at home, at the restaurant, or when we’re entertaining.
The playlist contains anything that makes us feel good, has nostalgic vibes, feel good music. A lot of music from our favorite movies (and kids’ movies), but really a good mix that can “speak” to any one who is listening… (A few favorites: Rolling Stones, Rodriguez, love covers, film soundtracks, Beach Boys, Beatles, Billie Holiday, Dolly Parton, The Cure, Georges Brassens, The Proclaimers, Phoenix, Francoise Hardy, Huey Lewis, George Michael, Frankie Valli, Seu Jorge, Nico, Rilo Kelly, Sam Cooke, Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons, Elvis, Talking Heads, Serge Gainsborg, Gene Kelly, Ella Fitzgerald, Louie Prima)
We really have some personal story or reason behind every song that we play.
Is there any one “party” item you notice you can’t stop buying? Katie and I have problems with cake stands and cocktail napkins – we’re hoarding them in massive amounts. Do you have any of these item-issues?
Glassware. You can never have enough glassware.
What is the first thing you notice when you walk into someone else’s party? It’s okay to be a little judgmental.
If there’s enough food for everyone. Food really needs to be overcatered. And the music. Also checking out the energy of the crowd always…
What’s the best hostess gift you’ve ever given or received?
Classic box of Belgian chocolates.
If you could party with one person – living or dead – who would it be?