Jewelry designer Sarah Hendler and her husband, chef Vinny Dotolo, throw an al fresco lunch for friends to celebrate her namesake line
Sarah Hendler and Vinny Dotolo are known for many things. As one half of the culinary duo behind the L.A. dining destinations Animal, Son of a Gun and Jon & Vinny’s, Dotolo and his partner, Jon Shook, are widely regarded as two of the best chefs in the city. Hendler, who started out in film production before transitioning to a supporting role in her husband’s culinary endeavors, recently stepped into the spotlight herself as a rising-star jewelry designer with her own namesake line. But among friends, the couple is best known for their effortless approach to entertaining at their home in Hancock Park, which they share with their two sons, ages 3 and 5. Nowhere is their love for bringing people together over food more apparent than on this spring afternoon, while Dotolo and Hendler are welcoming some of their closest friends to join them for a casual celebratory lunch prepared by Dotolo to fete Hendler’s vintage-inspired gems.
“I always remember Sarah having a great jewelry collection,” says film production designer and interior designer Ruth De Jong, who arrives early to lend a hand, crafting the cheery outdoor table setting and artfully arranging fresh blooms she’s picked up from the flower market in DTLA, not far from her De Jong & Co. showroom. (No stranger to Hendler and Dotolo’s aesthetic preferences, De Jong designed Son of a Gun; for the last two years she has also been reimagining the couple’s Tudor-style home.) “It’s been awesome to see her take this idea and run with it.”
Credit Hendler’s grandmothers, Ethel and Shirley, and mother, Adrienne, who instilled a love for jewels in the Long Island native at an early age. “I’ve always been fascinated by jewelry,” says Hendler, wearing a RTH dress paired with one-of-a-kind oversize emerald-and-diamond spear earrings from her collection in collaboration with Gemfields—last seen dangling from the ears of red-carpet darling Ruth Negga at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. “I’m a person who has a passion for it, who has researched it.”
After curating a wildly popular selection of vintage and estate pieces for Nickey Kehoe under the label Sarah Hendler Estate, Hendler decided to launch her own fine jewelry line in 2016, taking cues from art deco family heirlooms, and naming the collections after her grandmothers. “It’s modern with a nod to the past,” says Hendler of the nearly 40-piece line ($1,260-$15,500), which was picked up by Bergdorf Goodman. The pieces are handcrafted in DTLA and feature delicate enamel details, with colorful gems set in 18-karat gold. “It’s fine jewelry that will stand the test of time.”
As Dotolo helms the stoves with Spotify’s Cyndi Lauper channel playing in the background, friends begin to arrive and gather in the kitchen, including actor Colin Hanks and his wife, Sam, vice president of casting at production company Magical Elves. “There’s this ease in which Vinny is able to make all this really delicious food,” muses Hanks, who befriended Hendler on the set of the 2002 comedy Orange County. “But we come because of the company more than anything else. They are really solid people who are a joy to be around. Those are the exact people you want to be sitting with at a table for hours at a time.”
All talk quickly turns to pieces from Hendler’s jewelry line displayed on the family dining table. “Ever since I’ve known Sarah, she has always rocked the dopest jewelry,” says Helen Johannesen, proprietor of Helen’s Wines at Jon & Vinny’s, who eagerly tries on several earrings and rings. Though she already owns several pieces from Hendler’s vintage offerings, “I borrow from her quite a lot,” admits Johannesen. “I like that you can wear Sarah’s line with anything,” adds Maria Gabriel, who arrives with her husband and business partner Louis Gabriel of architecture and bespoke furniture studio Gabriel Projects (Hendler introduced the couple). Maria points to a ring Hendler helped her pick out from her selection at Nickey Kehoe. “It’s a ruby ring with four stones, because there are four people in our family. It’s really sweet.”
Lunch is served in the garden, where guests tuck into a feast of chicken picatta with skillet potatoes, paired with sprouting Romanesco cauliflower with smoked gouda, almonds and a pickled pepper vinaigrette, and escarole with parmesan and Meyer lemon dressing. Dessert is a deconstructed take on strawberry shortbread, laden with Harry’s Berries (Dotolo sourced all the fresh ingredients from the Hollywood Farmers’ Market). “I cook a little more simple, a little more rustic, a little more homey at the house,” says Dotolo of their monthly backyard get-togethers.
“We tend to do a lot outside. We really don’t have a formal dining room yet,” adds Hendler, surveying the garden scene. “We can eat, we can watch the kids play. Vinny cooks. Other people help. Our priority is to do something like this, because it’s California.” sarahhendler.com.
Photography by AMY DICKERSON.
Written by LESLEY McKENZIE.