When Harlem & Paris Rendez-Vous
On February 28, Harlem and Paris met at Sofitel New York for an unforgettable gastronomic evening, celebrating a union that predates even the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised Marcus Samuelsson, head chef of Harlem’s famed Red Rooster and Robert Hohmann, Executive Chef of Sofitel New York fused their visions and talents for this one-of-a-kind event.
A little bit of history…
The shared history of Harlem and France goes back a long way. During the "Harlem Renaissance" in the Twenties, Afro-American artists and musicians came to France to widen their artistic vision and to escape the daily oppression of American racism. These trips worked in both directions! The French, fascinated by jazz and gospel, visited Harlem to be at the heart of this black culture.
Gastronomic traces of this past relationship can still be found in Harlem: many eateries feature French dishes on their menus and it is not unusual to come across restaurants with French names such as "Chez Lucette", which happens to be a neighbour of the Red Rooster!
Back to the Twenties
Evoking the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Sofitel New York transformed its Le Grand Paris Ballroom into a fantasy world suffused in scarlet light. Long tables were set with kuba cloth, marabou feathers and towering vases of cotton stems. Walkways were punctuated by ornate French streetlamps. There were side-by-side projections of the Eiffel Tower and Apollo Theater – and music. Lots of music.
A Harlem-style-Apollo revue featured style icon Lana Turner reciting poetry in a fuchsia feather fascinator and satin opera gloves, followed by four pop-up performances. Harlem’s hottest band, the Rakiem Walker Project, wended its way among the crowd throughout the evening.
A Gastronomic Adventure
The six-course collaborative menu featured Samuelsson’s mastery on Harlem cuisine with a Parisian twist by Hohmann, all perfectly matched with wines from Bordeaux.
Tuna Cru with pickled turnips, Brussels leaves, pomegranate and blood-orange nage,
paired with Château Jean Faux, Bordeaux Blanc 2015.
Gnocchi with crispy chicken oysters, sunchokes, tatsoi and porcini velouté,
paired with Clos Floridène Blanc, Graves 2013.
Fried Green Tomato with duck confit and pickled melon,
paired with Clos Puy Arnaud, Castillon, Côtes de Bordeaux 2012.
Braised Beef Cheeks with foie gras, winter truffles and creamy grits,
paired with Château Capbern Gasqueton, Saint-Estèphe 2006.
Cheese Plate of Le Montagnard, Esquirrou and Saint Agur selected by world-renowned cheesemonger Roland Bartélemy in conjunction with Savencia Cheese USA,
paired with Château Coutet, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2012.
Sweet Potato Panna Cotta with praline cracker and fruit relish,
paired with Château Laribotte, Sauternes 2011.