Jennifer, Maile and Ridge Carpenter get together every Sunday night. But unlike most of America, the three beautiful twenty- and thirtysomething sisters, all of whom live in New York City, don't gather to watch HBO with boxes of take-out pizza. Instead they sit down, with Jennifer's husband, Dave Arnold, to a leisurely meal of homemade fried chicken, buttery dinner rolls and chocolate pound cake that is more a tribute to The Waltons than to The Sopranos.
In contrast to their old-fashioned Sunday night suppers, the Carpenters' weekdays are hectic in the modern, urban way. As Time Out New York's Eat Out editor, Maile is the first person to hit each new restaurant in the city. Jennifer is a partner at Truck, a firm specializing in tabletop and furniture design, and the mother of a 14-month-old, Booker. Ridge stays busy hiring babies as models for Parenting magazine photo shoots. Dave, the son of an electrical engineer, works as both a sculptor and a Web designer; in his downtime, he collects almost anything food-relatedthe more technical the better. The pride of his cookbook collection is a series of food-technology tomes, some more than 800 pages long, that he photocopied from a science library. "The Gastronomic Regenerator couldn't be moved from the research room, so I took a digital picture of each page and copied those," he recalls.
The Carpenters have had meals together since they were children; their father's military postings meant they were always living in new places, but family dinners were a constant. The family sat down every evening, whether they were in Alabama, Arizona or Germany. "Dinners went on for hours, until you just couldn't sit anymore," says Maile, who recently relocated from San Francisco to New York to an apartment near her family because she missed spending time with them. "When you move every three years, you lose your friends, but you always have your sisters," she adds.