When I first spotted renderings of the dining rooms presently taking shape at Inspīr Carnegie Hill, a modern senior living residence that will soon debut on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, I assumed that they were publicizing yet another highly anticipated celebrity-chef restaurant. From the stunning design to the tasteful décor, the dramatic spaces had all the features of a hip Tribeca hot spot.
As a longtime dining editor and cookbook author, I keep a close watch on the frothy New York City dining scene. I was ready to add this latest destination to my list of places to check out during my next visit until I dug a little deeper. This wasn’t a public restaurant at all, I soon discovered, but rather the private dining venues at Inspīr Carnegie Hill, a breathtaking 23-story architectural gem rising near the East River.
1802, the fine-dining eatery that first grabbed my attention, is just one of the tasteful amenities within the comprehensive dining experience. The upscale residences also boast a more casual bistro environment, an elegant cocktail lounge, and a soaring indoor-outdoor “SkyPark” with dazzling river and skyline views that is sure to be a hit for al fresco dining and sunset happy hours.
I’ll admit that my familiarity with the luxury senior living market is extremely limited (I only recently received my AARP card!), but as a food writer, I am deeply interested in the intersection of diet and wellness. My latest work, a cookbook co-authored with celebrity chef Michael Symon entitled Fix It with Food, explores how certain foods can cause inflammation and the adverse side effects that come with it. In the book, due out in December of 2019, the James Beard Award-winning chef offers recipes that avoid common triggers like high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed meats. In place of those off-limits items, the chef champions wholesome ingredients such as berries, broccoli, flaxseed, walnuts, extra-virgin olive oil, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are shown to combat inflammation.
The culinary team at Inspīr, as I understand it, will take a similar approach but direct its attention to the specific needs of seniors. Taking cues from evidence-based diets such as MIND and the eating habits of people living in “Blue Zones,” areas in the world where people are living the longest, happiest, and healthiest lives, staff nutritionists aim to maintain and improve memory and cognitive function while lowering the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. A diet flush with fresh fruit, leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole grains, healthy fats, and certain fish is proven to do just that.
It’s not just what residents eat that plays a significant role in one’s overall well-being but also where. The physical dining experience is an integral part of the equation at Inspīr, with special attention placed on facilitating conversation, fostering a sense of belonging, and making non-resident family and friends feel comfortable. To stimulate appetites, all dining rooms throughout the building feature open kitchens, which allow diners to see, hear, and smell the food as it is being prepared.
Wellness, we know, involves much more than physical health; there are also mental, emotional, and social aspects to living well at every age. Fit “mind, body, and spirit” means having access to stimulating cultural experiences, engaging social happenings, and meaningful spiritual connections, all of which are cultivated at Inspīr Carnegie Hill thanks to top-notch amenities and programming that bring the outside world in. But for those who can and care to take advantage of the dining, music, theater, art, and cinema just outside the front door, there are concierges who help facilitate it. All of the above, of course, comes with world-class care designed for residents of all ages, stages, and situations.
As this project nears the finish line, with an expected unveiling in early 2020, I’ll be following along with curious anticipation. I know that soon an executive chef will be named, who will oversee the fine dining restaurants along with the other dining options in the building. Next will be the first round of menus, which undoubtedly will capture in delicious detail the multicultural diversity of the city all around it. And then there will be those first meals, enjoyed in style by the lucky residents who now call Inspīr Carnegie Hill home.
Douglas Trattner is a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work, which includes food, beverage, travel and culture, has been published locally, nationally and internationally, and has appeared in Food Network magazine, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Eater, Miami Herald, Globe and Mail, Tasting Table and Wine & Spirits.
Photo curtosy of BurkleHagen Studio.