Janet O’Brien Caterers + Events Honors Community and Worldy Influences

Life is a banquet for the Hamptons party planner extraordinaire.


Celebrations of food and friendship are the driving forces of Janet O’Brien Caterers + Events. Photography by Ben Potter

By Jenna Lebovits

PURIST: Since 1992, Janet O’Brien Caterers + Events has been a key ingredient in some of the best celebrations in New York. What do you attribute its success to? 

Janet O’Brien: My team and I involve ourselves with our clients. It’s not just a job. We realize that celebrations are always a memory for someone.

PURIST: What are some of the highlights of your career—favorite events you’ve planned. What made them special? 

JO: The ’90s was a super-busy time. People really were entertaining and spending money. In the summer of ’22, we catered a fabulous small dinner party—40 people, for one of the top guys for Sony. Harry Styles was a guest; he came over and thanked all of the staff individually.

PURIST: What worldly cuisines are you inspired by?

JO: We live in a little Tuscany. I’m near Sagaponack, which has some of the richest land. So, Italian cuisine: olive oil, lemon zest, the simplicity of it. We can duplicate it so easily in season, because we’re grabbing pieces of rosemary from the farms. We also feature a lot of Asian flavors, such as Asian-influenced dressings. The crossover with Asian and any other kind of cultural food is amazing. We can do a Moroccan evening, or one of my other favorites, Indian. We can cook anything.

PURIST: How does your travel influence your business?

JO: It influences one’s vision and life. The women who work for me—a team of Central and South American women who have been with me for 20-plus years—bring a naturalness to how we handle food. It’s like we’re closer to the feeling of food because we don’t have rules and regulations. My business is immigrant-run, woman-owned and women-run. 

“We live in a little Tuscany,” says O’Brien. Photography by Ben Potter

PURIST: Where did your love of food and entertainment come from?

JO: It’s just something that’s ingrained in you. Entertaining is in you or not in you. When I lived in Ireland, I was entertaining as much as I could. Just the simplest of dishes, but still experiencing the joy of gathering people in my home. 

PURIST: Many of your ingredients are sourced from the East End. What is the importance of eating local? 

JO: We’re blessed with a very special community where we are in all of this together, be it with oyster growers, the fishermen or the farms. I’m an avid local farm person. My favorite is Halsey Farm on Deerfield Road; There’s also Jim Pike from Pike Farms in Sagaponack; his corn is to die for.

PURIST: What is your favorite summer dish for entertaining out East?

JO: Corn concassé is one of the most popular dishes. We saute corn very quickly, and then put chiffonade of basil and a dice of tomatoes through it. It’s a wonderful dish to serve underneath a large amount of food. Paired with fish, you can never beat it.

PURIST: What is your business mantra? 

JO: Community. The celebration of food. We’re so blessed to have it. It brings happiness to people to sit and share food they know comes from sources they completely trust. janetobriencaterers.com