[Interview] Director of Creative Projects at EMP Summer House, Natasha McIrvin

Photo: EMP Summer House

If I had a penny for everytime someone claimed they know and/or frequent the #1 restaurant in the world, I would have a significant amount of pennies. Not enough to purchase a house or even buy a sports car, but maybe $70 worth right out the gate, which could coincidentally get you a nice entree + drink of choice at the restaurant actually ranked #1 in the world as of 2017—Eleven Madison Park (EMP).

This summer, while undergoing renovations at their flagship restaurant in NYC, the three Michelin star establishment set up shop out here on the East End. Taking over the Moby’s space in East Hampton, EMP Summer House opened its doors.

Photo: EMP Summer House

I recently caught up with Natasha McIrvin, Director of Creative Projects at Make It Nice (EMP, NoMad, Made Nice), to check in and see how summer’s going at the one-time-only pop-up, what menu items we should be placing out pennies on, how to get a reservation when there is none left, and more.

So we’re just about halfway through summer. How’re things going so far at the pop-up? Has Jerry Seinfeld showed up and tried to ruin your day yet? He likes to do stuff like that you know.

Thanks for the tip! We’ll be on the lookout for Jerry. Things have been quite busy since we opened our doors, but our team is happy to be here (thanks to our backyard space, I think this is the most Vitamin D I’ve ever gotten while working in restaurants). I especially love watching guests get competitive with the lawn games. It may only be halfway through the summer, but I’ve already witnessed some pretty intense cornhole throwdowns.

The Backyard. Photo: EMP Summer House

Talk to us about the partnership with American Express. How’d that come about and what’s it entail for folks carrying cards with a Roman Centurion on ’em?

We’ve always had a great relationship with American Express, so when we made the decision to bring our team out east for the summer, they were quick to jump on board to be a part of the collaboration. They’ve been wonderful partners and it’s been so much fun working with them from the beginning. American Express is the only card we accept at the Summer House, so what that means for cardholders is that they get that access to reservations.

Does that mean we can’t enjoy a meal and pay with the $200 cash we made last night during bar dice at Liar’s?

You can absolutely pay in cash. That being said, if you want to reserve a table in the main dining room, or pay with a credit card, you’re going to need that AMEX.

The Main Dining Room. Photo: EMP Summer House

We’d be wrong not to dig into the food for a minute. What’s been the most ordered/complimented/drooled-over dish on the menu?

The lobster boil has been a huge hit. Basically, you can reserve the experience for 6-8 people (perfect for family gatherings, #squadgoals, book club outings… etc.) where our chef comes out and pours a pot of lobster, seafood, corn, potatoes, and all things delicious, right onto your table. Best part is: you get to eat with your hands.

Something tells us you might have a decent opinion on what to order yourself. Personal favorite snack and starter?

Easy question: Lobster tempura and snow pea salad. All day, every day.

Outside of the restaurant, what’s been the most rewarding part of getting to spend summer on the East End?

Getting to know the community, for sure. We were lucky enough to meet some incredible local artists who have hung their pieces on our walls at the restaurant. I’ve gotten to know them and their families a little better since I’ve been out here, and they’ve been so welcoming. Brian and Aynsley Schopfer of Grain Surfboards (their surfboards are hanging over our patio bar) were kind enough to invite me to this art show they put on at their studio. They even might convince me to learn how to surf!

Photo: EMP Summer House

We can’t imagine you having trouble attracting noteworthy guests, but let’s say you have the opportunity to curate a special dinner with four special folks. Requirements are one comedian, one hip-hop/R&B artist from the 90s, one actress with either blonde, brunette or red hair and one guy that’s just really, really well-dressed. Who’s receiving an invite?

I’m going to add the “dead of alive” stipulation. Joan Rivers, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes from TLC, Judi Dench, and my baby brother who rocks an undercut hairstyle and is starting to dress like a mini-Macklemore.

Appreciate you making the time to answer these. We usually like to end by sending our readers somewhere where they can check out more or possibly get involved, but we suppose that’s not a viable outro considering you guys are entirely booked through the end of your tenure in East Hampton. Any Hail Mary advice for someone without reservations looking to get a taste of EMP Summer House before it’s over?

Just walk right in! Really. We have our picnic tables in the backyard open and available on a first come, first serve basis. You also don’t need a reservation to grab a seat at our bar inside/order off the main menu. At the very least, you should come hang out in our backyard and practice your ping pong skills. Daniel and Will are getting pretty good and could use some fresh competition…

For more info, check out the EMP Summer House website. Thank you, Natasha + Kevin + Sarah!