Christian Slater’s Tips for Navigating Even the Schmooziest of Dinner Parties
Christian Slater doesn’t cook. As a born-and-raised New Yorker, he likes to go out and experience what the city has to offer, from ricotta pancakes to cheese rolls. But while he might not host in his own home, you don’t survive nearly four decades in a schmoozy industry like Hollywood without learning the intricacies of a dinner party. What do you talk about with people you don’t know? How do you make yourself useful? And perhaps the most important question of all: Is it okay to double dip? Turns out the Golden Globe-winning star of Mr. Robot (back for a third season this month) has a handy tip or three for how to be the most gracious guest at any get-together.
What’s your ideal New York City food day?
For breakfast, I love Café Luxembourg. They have these ricotta pancakes with sea-salt butter and crispy potatoes. Phenomenal. For lunch, I love The Plaza food court. Luke’s Lobster is my favorite. Their clam chowder is unbelievable. Then it’s the ice cream macaron sandwiches at Payard and a walk through Central Park.
Has filming Mr. Robot here turned you on to some new spots?
Well, if you’re going to work on Coney Island, you have to have a Nathan’s hotdog and a ride on the Wonder Wheel. That’s a staple. We also shoot out in Greenpoint, and there’s a Peter Pan Donuts there. If I don’t come home with some glazed, I tend to get into trouble.
Do you ever cook dinner at home?
Well, honestly, because this city’s restaurants are so abundant, cooking at home does not happen. If we have to entertain, we’d rather experience what the city has to offer. If people are visiting, they want to go out! One of the places I like to take people is Nerai, this Greek restaurant off Park Avenue and 54th. They have this shredded phyllo with honey that’s outrageous. Or Maison Kayser on 76th and Broadway. My daughter’s away at school, and what she wanted for her 15th birthday was 15 cheese rolls from Maison Kayser. My wife made it happen!
OK, so you’re not hosting any dinner parties. But you probably get invited to some. Ever find yourself sandwiched between a couple of strangers?
Yeah, but I like to meet people. Hopefully the person you’re sitting next to is open and gracious and warm, and you have some things in common.
How do you get a dinner party conversation started?
What people end up doing at dinner parties is talking about their kids or their dogs. Or maybe that’s just me. I start by showing photos of my kids—I’m very proud of them—and our dogs. That seems to put people at ease.
Any cocktail party pet peeves?
I’m definitely on board with the no double dipping rule. I don’t double dip, and I don’t want to see anyone else doing it! Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld really knew what they were talking about.
What’s the best way to show gratitude to a good host?
I’m one of the great post-party dish washers. I don’t know what the heck it is, but I will wash the dishes, make sure there’s no food on them, load the dishwasher. Pre-rinse is key. I’m always astounded by people who don’t get that. I mean, come on.
I sense your social calendar filling up.
I know. I just got myself invited to every party. I’ll be at [NBC Universal vice chairman] Ron Meyer’s next Emmy party, in the kitchen… cleaning.