1003_mockup.gif

— DIANE CLEHANE

I attended a fabulous lunch today for Deb Shriver to celebrate the publication of her first book, Stealing Magnolias, due out any minute. It was a festive afternoon befitting the book which is equal parts love letter, scrapbook and chic guide to Deb’s adopted city of New Orleans. “I not only love New Orleans. I love the idea of it. When I’m away, it is a dream I can always return to. I would come just for the gumbo,” says Deb, an Atlanta native and twelfth-generation Southerner.

Our hostess, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, welcomed everyone to “New Orleans North” as we all sipped our Pimm’s Cups (‘I never drink at lunch but I’ll make an exception’ was pretty much the consensus) and dined on Louisiana crawfish salad made especially for the occasion. The guest list was a chatty mix of journos and Deb’s nearest and dearest. In attendance: More‘s editor Lesley Jane Seymour, authors Pamela Keogh and Susan Sully, Deb’s husband Jerry Shriver who toils as music critic for USA Today,  Jesse Kornbluth of headbutler.com,  Amy Wicks of WWD and Melissa Coan and Marcia Sherill of 1stdibs.com It’s worth noting that Deb, whose ‘real job’ as Hearst’s chief officer of communications keeps her more than busy, wrote her book ‘on weekends’ over the course of several months. “Pretty humbling for all of us here at the table who do this for a living,” said one guest. Indeed.

Before lunch, we all got a chance to flip through the pages of the sumptuous tome and I was struck by all the beautiful photography of the people, places and cuisine of New Orleans. It’s the work of 17 different photographers, Deb tells me — and she did all the food styling herself! (Some people just multitask a lot better than others, I suppose). Then, just as the main course was about to be served, everyone in the dining room was treated to a surprise solo performance of jazz man Craig Handy to make the Manhattan Mardi Gras complete. Bravo!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Deb Shriver, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Jerry Shriver, Lesley Jane Seymour, Amy Wicks, Pamela Keogh, Jesse Kornbluth, Susan Sully, Marcia Sherrill, Melissa Coan and yours truly.

2. MSNBC’s Chris Licht, Nancy Jacobson and Kevin Sheekey.

3.  The ‘Imber Gang:” Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer

4. Peter Brown

Read more