The Real Deal New York

Day in the life of: Judi Desiderio

Town & Country founder talks about building a brokerage firm in the Hamptons — and making a mean chili
By C.J. Hughes | May 01, 2013 07:00AM

Judi Desiderio

5:00 a.m. My eyes open at 5 and I get out of bed at 5:30. I’m a morning person and hit the ground at level 10.

5:45 a.m. I make some French-press coffee: half decaf and half regular, because I’m wired by nature. I drink three cups. While the coffee is steeping, I walk outside. I live on a bay in East Hampton. The other day, I walked to the garden to see what the deer didn’t get, but they had eaten part of my rhododendrons. They must have been really hungry this year.

6:30 a.m. The guy drops off the papers — the Wall Street Journal and Newsday — around 6:30. Then I go and work out, from about 6:45 to 7:30. I work out seven days a week in my basement. If you’re as busy I am, if you don’t set aside time to take care of your vessel, it just won’t get done. I lift weights twice a week, I do Pilates once, and the other four days I do something aerobic on the bike or treadmill. I have a master’s in exercise physiology, so I practice what I preach.

7:30 a.m. I make breakfast after I work out. It’s usually a shake, with Greek yogurt, vanilla soy milk, and frozen mangoes and peaches, which I blend with flaxseed. Then I shower and dress. I’m out of there by 8 o’clock. But I do fill up a mug with hot water and lemon and cayenne pepper, and a squirt of agave, for the commute. It warms you up and keeps you slim.

8:30 a.m. I’m the first to arrive at the office in East Hampton [the firm, which was founded in 2005, has eight offices and 140 agents]. I meet with my managers in person every day, or at least talk to them by phone. We always tackle that in the morning.

10:00 a.m. This winter we had a meeting every Monday morning about our rebranding. We’re still using British racing green, but instead of using it for our background, we now have a white background. Burkhart Marketing was the company we used. They interviewed each of our 10 managers and some of the agents, and then asked customers and clients what they liked. They also came up with the motto, “the power of deep roots.” I think they did a great job. You want to shake things up now and then.

11:00 a.m. On Friday, I met with some clients who are trying to sell a Montauk home, a cottage with two bedrooms on the water. It’s owned by three siblings, and is an estate sale. It’s listed at $8.5 million and has been shown about 20 times in the last two months. But we’re not going to lower the price. Then we went to lunch at Rowdy Hall in East Hampton. I had a croque-monsieur that was slobbered with butter and all sorts of stuff. Everybody else had salads, but I let go a bit.

2:00 p.m. I serve on the board of Fighting Chance, a cancer-counseling charity. Our annual gala is on June 1 at the Devon Yacht Club in Amagansett. So, I’ve been shaking the trees to get people to donate things for the silent auction. Elie Tahari, the designer, is also a landlord. He donated women’s handbags. We get a lot of great things; our firm also gives money to the cause.

4:00 p.m. Today, I’m preparing for a meeting with the partners about summer rentals. We’re deciding what to put in the canvas beach bags we leave in the homes for when renters check in. They’re usually filled with T-shirts and hats and beach balls, or wine and gift certificates to a cheese shop. It’s really chock-full of good stuff. Rentals have been very, very good this year. People are coming out here because they aren’t going to the Jersey Shore or Fire Island, because of damage from Sandy. Montauk is on fire. It’s been getting more and more notoriety; it’s a fun place, and I think people are itching to have fun again.

5:30 p.m. I try to do something social on Friday. Last Friday, we took a friend out for cocktails at East Hampton Point. I like a good Dark ’n’ Stormy. Otherwise, I’m home cooking. I make a mean chili. I also make my own pasta, but my husband, John Tracy, who’s a former New York firefighter, is not into red sauce; I make a lobster sauce for him. My son Drew, 25, who is an agent at our firm, joins us. So does Jack, who’s 18 and a lifeguard. We try to have dinner together as a family Monday through Thursday.

8:30 p.m. Dinner is over by 8:30. I don’t usually watch TV, but I do catch the 10 o’clock news. But I might also watch “Two and a Half Men.” My day is so serious that I like a little comic relief. Bed is between 11 and 11:30.