Gilded Glamour: Inside The St. Regis Hong Kong Midnight Supper
Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor—whose son, John Jacob Astor IV, built the first St. Regis hotel in 1904—was well known for many things other than her storied last name, most notably her reign as the doyenne of New York high society, during which she threw many opulent parties. Invitations to her parties were only sent to “Caroline’s 400,” a list of the 400 most influential people in New York at the time.
But a more elusive and sought-after invitation might be extended to some of the guests at the main party—a discreet tap on the shoulder from Mrs. Astor herself signalling that the guest was among the few who could stay behind for one of her infamous midnight suppers.
St. Regis Hotels & Resorts has since made the midnight supper a timeless tradition and an integral element of its brand, along with its iconic butler service, afternoon tea and various iterations of the classic Bloody Mary cocktail, among others.
And with the St. Regis Hong Kong being the newest House of Astor, its midnight suppers showcase how it has evolved to be a contemporary culinary experience while retaining the charm and allure of the original midnight suppers hosted by Caroline Astor.
André Fu, the interior designer behind the St. Regis Hong Kong’s elegant interiors, hosted a midnight supper in May for 50 luminaries, including Queenie Rosita Law, Kamsen Lau, Antonia Li, Jonathan Cheung, Alan Lo and Yenn Wong.
“I am intrigued with the ethos of the midnight supper—the idea to bring together an eclectic mix of people to exchange and celebrate under one roof,” says André. “It captivates the essence of a certain time and place of New York back in 1904 when the original St. Regis was built—it’s an event that embraces the quintessential New York society spirit.”
The night started with pre-dinner drinks in the Presidential Suite, where André and his guests sipped champagne and martinis while enjoying the views of Hong Kong from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the 2,583sqft suite, before making their way to the Astor Ballroom.
Once outside the closed doors, there was a grand unveiling for guests to fully take in the splendour of the stately ballroom, which was filled with ornamental plants and lush vines along the walls, paired with fresh florals in green and white festooned from the ceiling and arranged alongside candles glimmering inside bespoke crystal holders, all on a long table. While the guests soaked in the beauty, the sounds of a jazz band filled the air—a scene that Caroline would have envisioned if she were alive and planning the midnight supper.
André gave a speech and made a welcome toast after the guests were treated to a theatrical sabrage ceremony led by head sommelier Tristan Pommier. Sabrage is the French tradition of slicing open a bottle of champagne at the neck with a saber, which was begun by Napoleon and has since become a St. Regis tradition.
Once the champagne was poured, a four-course menu awaited. Created by executive sous chef Vincent Leroux, the menu featured classic flavours given a modern interpretation, beginning with a starter of half-seared tuna topped with confit tomatoes and an orange-infused foam, a lighter take on the classic mikado sauce.
This was followed by a simple, delightful course of tagliatelle with fresh black truffles and a main course of beef done two ways as a unique twist on steak—a fillet smoked with thyme for extra flavour and aroma, which was served atop braised beef cheek and heirloom carrots. Executive pastry chef Chad Yamagata followed up with a refreshing dessert of yuzu ganache paired with a raspberry compote and uji matcha.
And as the dessert plates were cleared away, guests lingered at the table to sip more champagne with their petit fours, savouring the last moments of an experience that took them back to the glamour of Caroline’s soirées and New York City’s Gilded Age.
See also: Exclusive: The St. Regis Midnight Supper Gallery