A country estate aura surrounds the home of the creative and energetic Wendy Wurtzburger and her multitalented husband, Chris Bentley. But instead of a long drive to reach its welcoming façade, the 1849 classic, set on 4.5 acres, sits within Philadelphia’s city limits. While enjoying summer at the family’s Lake Michigan home, Chris admits to thoughts of Philadelphia at the first hint of fall. “It is my favorite season, bar none,” he says. “The scent of autumn signals the change of seasons that I find totally invigorating. The intense heat is gone, and there’s a snap in the air, indicating it’s time to light the fires and plan a party. Fall is the best season to entertain because it’s warm enough to eat outside, and the harvest from our garden is truly amazing.”

fall party menu

Robin Bentley (who had cooked with Michelin-starred chef Gabe McMackin at The Finch in Brooklyn) and Lidey Heuck (who also has a blog called Lidey Likes) exchanged ambitious ideas for the fall party menu.

Inspired by these sentiments, the couple began orchestrating an ambitious fall soirée last summer. “We wanted to celebrate the harvest while saluting the creativity of our family and special friends,” says Wendy. “First we asked [our son] Robin, who is a graduate of The International Culinary Center, and his best childhood friend from Michigan, Lidey Heuck, who, as Ina Garten’s assistant, manages the Barefoot Contessa’s media platforms and recipe testing in the Hamptons, to create original recipes with the bounty from our gardens, just for this party.”

Photos and Recipe Links

(Click the arrows (or swipe if on a mobile device) to see more)

fall party menu
Cocktails, pears, and a nonchalant arrangement of blush-colored dahlias, green hydrangeas, and grasses from the garden sits on a serving table on the side porch.
Guests sipped Gin Pear Cocktails with Philadelphia-made Liberty Gin.
Get the Recipe
Lidey set up clams and spicy breadcrumbs to be finished in the pizza oven.
A green salad with chèvre and nasturtium dressing
A platter holds tiny Guatemalan pottery cups filled with sorrel soup.
rye focaccia topped with tomato confit
Wendy's tomato confit tops Robin's rye focaccia with fennel.
Get the Rye Focaccia Recipe
Chef Robin Bentley prepared this hearty, Bourbon Braised Pork Shoulder served over cheesy, herbed polenta.
Get the Recipe
roasted kabocha squash
Chef Robin Bentley created this Roasted Kabocha Squash (also known as Japanese pumpkin) with bright citronette dressing.
Get the Recipe
rye focaccia recipe
Chef Robin Bentley prepared a homemade Rye Focaccia with Fennel served with berries, figs, and cheeses.
Get the Recipe
The cheese selection included Saint Andre (France, cow’s milk, triple crème) and Morbier (France, cow’s milk and vegetable ash, semi-soft), along with, fruit, pickled vegetables, and summer preserves.
pear hazelnut cake
A tray of pears stands ready to be prepared for Lidey Heuck's Pear and Hazelnut Cake recipe.
Get the Recipe

Fall Party Menu

Liberty Gin with Poire Williams pear-flavored brandy, fresh mint, and Bartlett pear; Manayunk Moonshine with hot apple cider

Cheese plate, pickles, summer preserves; sorrel soup; tomato confit on rye focaccia; wood-roasted clams with spicy breadcrumbs; Shishito peppers roasted with sea salt

Green salad with chèvre and nasturtium dressing; bourbon-braised pork over polenta with sage; fire-roasted pumpkin with citronette and honey goat cheese

Pear and hazelnut cake

As someone pronounced the feast “no mere ode to the harvest,” Wendy added, “It became such a joyous salute to the incredible creativity of family and close friends, we decided to do it every year.”

By Marion Laffey Fox | Photography by Alison Conklin

More Fall Flowers and Entertaining