NEW YORK — Jay Jolly is the kind of man that illustrious society hostesses like Blaine Trump and Nan Kempner have in their Rolodexes, if not on speed dial. As the recently crowned director of catering for R.S.V.P., the restaurant that specializes in takeout and private parties in its 30-seat upstairs room — and the sister to the Upper East Side bastion Swifty’s — Jolly is the man the ladies call when they want to throw an intimate dinner for 10 or have a catered banquet for 100.
“I’m the chief, the cook and the bottle washer of the planning process,” he says gleefully. “My clients and I discuss the menus, the style, the room, the flowers and then I coordinate it all.”
Jolly’s expertise is the result of 20 years as an account executive at Glorious Food, the high-end catering service used by clients from Bill Blass Inc. to Goldman Sachs. During Jolly’s tenure there, he tended to such clients as Jackie O. and Liza Minnelli.
Remember Tina Brown’s launch party for Talk at the Statue of Liberty? Jolly, as part of Glorious Food, did the catering. And how about the Liberty Weekend extravaganza on Governor’s Island in the Eighties? Jolly was there, too.
“Planning a party for me is like second nature,” he says.
A good thing, since he’s booked to throw a party nearly every night through the end of November. Recently, he catered the launch of Cece Cord’s dog accessories line at Bergdorf Goodman and created special poodle, terrier and dachshund-shaped cookies especially for her. Last week, he masterminded the dinner Blaine and Robert Trump threw for Viscount and Viscountess Linley, and on Friday, he organized dinner for 80 at a tony uptown apartment. But he wouldn’t divulge whose.
“I can’t stand to name drop,” he says.
But there is one secret he will reveal. After all these years in the business, he admits that he’s learned the key to throwing a flawless party.
“Delegate,” he says. “And then relax.”