Internationally recognized wedding planner and event stylist Sofia Crokos knows about luxury entertaining, and she’s no stranger to world travel. Sofia has planned spectacular weddings and events for celebrities including Robert Downey Jr., Betsey Johnson and Marc Anthony to name but a few. Her work has taken her all over the world from the Caribbean, Mexico and last year, she was the first to produce a wedding at the Ritz Paris post-renovation.
Sofia has also become a global jet-setter over the span of her successful career, and she has developed an enviable knack for traveling in style. She is a self-professed “hotel warrior,” who admits to staying 2-3 nights every week in a hotel as opposed to her own home.
We checked in with Sofia to hear more about her latest adventures in life, work, and of course, travel.
Tell us more about being a “hotel warrior”?
It all started about a year or so ago. My home base is in Sag Harbor, and New York City is where I conduct my business. Because I have always had a fascination with hotels – the design, the service, the Feng shui of the room layouts – it attracted me to take advantage of some great rates that were being offered online as well as from some of my hotel industry colleagues. So, I began my hotel journey by studying some of NYC’s boutique hotels. It was also beneficial for me to have a better knowledge of NYC’s hotel market so if any clients or friends needed recommendations, I could share my insight.
What are your favorite hotel brands and why?
I love the boutique-luxury style hotel brands such as Firmdale Hotels. From this brand, I am totally obsessed with The Crosby Hotel as well as their latest NYC property, The Whitby Hotel. Kit Kemp, who is behind these hotels is brilliant and a huge inspiration to me. Some of my other favorite brands are SIXTY Hotels, Rosewood Hotels, The Baccarat Hotel, The Highline Hotel, and The Beekman, to name a few. I am a design aficionado, so I appreciate all the details that are so well thought out in some of these properties.
Was travel a big part of your childhood?
Yes. I am Greek-American, raised in Brooklyn, but spent many summers at my parents’ home in Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island and enjoyed summers in Greece. We also took trips to other countries such as Mexico, Switzerland, France, and various islands around the Caribbean.
How did growing up in a few locations impact you?
Hugely! I got to see and learn about so many different locations and cultures and spend time with my family all over the world. From setting an exquisite table, to jumping into the kitchen with my family and stirring up a delicious meal, to always keeping the conversation flowing – all these skills were deeply ingrained in my childhood. I learned to appreciate the subtle balancing act that is the art of entertaining.
For those who have never been to the North Fork, what is it like?
The North Fork is a very nostalgic place for me because my family had a beautiful home in Greenport on the water. As kids, we would go there in the summer, as well as the other seasons too and spend it with our cousins and friends. The North Fork is special for its simplicity and open fields of beautiful farmland and some great vineyards too.
Do you ever get back there?
My parents sold their home about 15 years ago, but I am lucky to go there still because I have other family members that have residences. I’ve also returned because of the great restaurants that have hit the North Fork. Earlier this summer, I ran into an old friend of mine, Michael E. Kontokosta, who invited me to visit his new vineyard, Kontokosta Winery. I was blown away by what Michael and his brother had done. The setting in the back of the of the tasting house is spectacular for dinner with friends. It brought back so many fond memories of dining outdoors with my parents that it sparked an idea for a series of pop-up style dinners at the vineyards.
Tell me about the pop-up event series.
The concept is simple: bringing people together to dine outside with the gorgeous backdrop of the vineyards. It marries our three passions, my natural flair for entertaining friends al fresco, supporting local purveyors, and Michael’s passion for wine.
How have your travels influenced the food that is served at your events?
I am truly a foodie at heart. I grew up in the summers traveling to Greece, Italy, and France and Mediterranean cuisine was my first love. You want to talk about farm-to-table, I was ingesting this from the age of three when my grandfather would go to his farms and pick the most beautiful vegetables you’ve ever seen. Food is a huge inspiration for me and this is why I really go deep with my clients in regard to finding out what they love to eat, where they dine, how they dine, and how they see food playing a part at their events.
I always encourage going with seasonal food and to not worry about which guest will eat lamb or the fish. I make them concentrate on choosing food they would cook if they were having guests over their home and of course add something to wow the guests is not a bad thing as well. I look at the menu as being an extension of their home and not what is ‘supposed’ to be served. One of my favorite food quotes by Virginia Woolf is “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Because of my love of food, I just opened a restaurant, Elaia Estiatorio, with my husband over the summer specializing in authentic Greek cuisine with a rustic, elegant style.
Michael Kontokosta and I have been talking about the idea of doing a few pop-up dinners at the winery starting in late fall of this year. I also plan to put a series of dinners or gatherings together with some fabulous under-the-radar chefs as well as some of my favorite caterers from New York and around the globe. I have already been talking to a premier NYC caterer about doing something off the beaten path and having it published. So grateful to say that I have a lot of yummy things in store for next year, so stay tuned!
Photo credit: Judith Rae