Maria Fishel is a philanthropist, arts patron, and prominent socialite. She works to positively impact the lives of others by donating her time, beautiful Bridgehampton, estate and funds. When Maria is not indulging her passion for the arts by attending lectures in art history, music, and literature at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she is a committee member, major fundraiser, and chair of events for the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, and their annual Hamptons Happening. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve and contribute to so many worthwhile organizations and their causes. Most of all, she is a proud mother passing along the tradition of giving to her two children, Melissa and Bradley. The Fishel children are defining the next generation of philanthropy by serving in the Millennial Society of the SWCRF.
Portrait of Maria Fishel Courtesy of Maria Fishel and Photographer Nina Dapraz
1. When and how did you first realize that you wanted to work in the industry and business you are in?
I realized I wanted to give back to my community and be a philanthropist at a very young age. One of the issues I am most passionate about is finding a cure for cancer. My husband’s parents and my father lost their lives to the disease. Now that I’m in a position to fund the ever so needed research, I will. That is why I am an active member of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. One in three people will be diagnosed with a form of cancer in their lifetime. It’s a disease that is prevalent and can ruin lives if we don’t get a hold of it.
2. Any celebrity clients or memorable stories related to your business that you want to share?
In addition to my charitable endeavors, it brings me great joy to host fundraising events. Some of my most memorable events include hosting a polo match, Art Hamptons, and a Shabad service at my Bridgehampton estate. Hosting gives me the opportunity to meet people from all different walks of life. My most memorable story is when I hosted Art Hamptons for the first time. It was amazing to meet talented, world-renowned artists—there were over 10,000 attendees.
3. What is a typical day like for you? And what do you like to do on a day off?
A typical day for me starts at 5am. I like to keep myself busy—my calendar is filled with social events, but when I’m not at luncheons, I am with my husband and children. Family is my number one priority.
4. What is the next big thing in your industry? What are people doing differently today, compared to 10-15 years ago?
The world of cancer research has come such a long way from 10-15 years ago. Before, having cancer was a fatal. Now, we are giving people a fighting chance. We have made many medical leaps towards finding a cure, but there is still much more work to be done. Every person’s body responds to treatment differently, but as of right now what’s most important is to keep raising awareness. Catching cancer in its early stages is crucial.
5. What are your three favorite restaurants in New York?
- Harry Cipriani – Mediterranean Branzino Al Fono
- The Polo Bar — Chicken Paillard
- Majorelle — Grilled Dover Sole
6. What are your three favorite bars in New York?
I do not frequent bars because I don’t drink.
7. What are your three favorite locations to visit in New York?
My three favorite locations to visit in New York are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cartier, and Ladurée French Bakery. I would also like to add Bergdorf Goodman.
Portrait of Kenneth and Maria Fishel Courtesy of Maria Fishel and Photographer Nina Dapraz
8. Which three events on your annual calendar will you will absolutely not miss?
- The Hamptons Happening that we have hosted for the past 7 years at our Bridgehampton estate.
- Valentino Fashion Show
- The Annual Christmas Luncheons at Doubles
9. What was your best New York moment? Your worst?
My best New York moment was when I purchased my Park Avenue apartment and looked out at my 360° view of New York City. Looking out over Central Park everyday makes me feel so blessed.
I don’t have a worst moment. I only focus on the positives.
10. Tell us something that people do not know about you. (And you cannot say it is a secret!)
People don’t know that I am very shy – until they meet me!
11. How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe my personal style as elegant and sophisticated. I wear pieces that are timeless.
12. Who is your style icon? Where do you find your style inspiration?
My style icons are Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. I find a lot of my inspiration on Instagram.
13. Who is your favorite Fashion Designer, Artist, or Architect – and why?
My favorite architect is Tony Ingrao. After seeing his previous work with the Baccarat Hotel, I knew my husband would be very happy with his interior aesthetic.
14. Name your favorite… and tell us why:
a. Outfit – I love my entire wardrobe but I love to wear Valentino gowns.
b. Perfume/Fragrance – Christian Dior
c. Movie – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
d. TV show – Downton Abbey
e. Book – Pride and Prejudice
15. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What is it you love about it and what is your favorite dish?
La Grenouille. I enjoy the soufflé on my cheat days.
16. Name your favorite vacation spot and hotel? What makes these places so special?
I like to travel to Europe, especially Paris with family where I stay at the Hôtel de Crillon. When my daughter went to school in the U.K. I visited her often and stayed at the Ritz Carlton every time.
I’m going to Germany soon to visit a dear friend in the city of Leipzig. It’s going to be an amazing time!
Portrait of The Fishel Family Courtesy of Maria Fishel and Photographer Nina Dapraz
17. Which three items can you not live without?
- Cell phone
- Flowers so I can create flower arrangements.
18. What song, meditation or mantra can you listen to on repeat? And why?
My favorite song is More by Nat King Cole. This song reminds of my wedding day; it was the song that was played when I first danced with my husband.
19. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like to meet? And why?
Queen Elizabeth, because she has so much wisdom.
Images Courtesy of Kenneth & Maria Fishel, the Fishel family, and Photographer Nina Dapraz