Dennis Rodman to Host a Cara Quici Video Release Party at the DL

I’m completely confused by this event over at DL‘s rooftop tonight. Starting at 7pm, Cara Quici is presenting a party for the video release of "Fight," which is "the official remake of the Beastie Boys’ ‘Fight For Your Right (To Party)’." Dennis Rodman–yes, that guy–is hosting the event. I was asked if I wanted to ask Mr. Rodman some questions and indeed I may, but I don’t know what to ask. I’m thinking about things like these: WTF?, How could you?, Seriously?, What were you thinking? and maybe What was the food like? I like Dennis Rodman. I liked him as a baller and I like and always chuckle at his post B-ball celebrity career. I am curious to see what the crowd will be like.

Mondays are a curious affair. They can be the best or the most desperately boring. For a million years the smart set gathered at Butter, but that passed and to some extent Catch answers all the questions. For the downtowners, Bingo at Chantelle provides reliable fun from all the unusual suspects.On Monday the 22nd I will surely pop over to Rockwood II (196 Allen Street @Houston) to catch Rudely Interrupted, featuring the glorious Lorraine Lackie and bon vivant, author, scholar, man about town Anthony Haden-Guest. They will be performing songs from their new album. I will be there as I am curious to see what the crowd will be like.

And yes… I must keep my posts short to ease the burden of those over at BlackBook covering for my editor Bonnie Gleicher, who is off somewhere in our world of wonder betraying our trust–probably editing someone else–in some sunny paradise surrounded by? … I’m curious to know what that crowd looks like.

Catching Up With Catch

The thing about Monday nights at Catch, that  EMM Group staple in the Meatpacking District, is that you could cast your line anywhere in the joint and hook a gazillionaire or stooopid-hot hottie faster than you can say "I used to do this at Butter.” Last night I went to their Monday night shin-dig, the heir of the Butter Mondays that reliably entertained us for a decade. I know I’m a little late to the game but my Mondays are reserved for Bingo and bedroom. Armed with some well-heeled friends, we were treated to fine fare and conversation. Table-hopping is the norm. I noticed the cork and sound treatment on the low-ish ceilings, put there to keep the socializing bearable to those actually trying to eat. Every table was a scene to be seen. Celebrities dined with their posses while tycoons were tycooning. Tables of beautiful girls picked at the menu.

We had traveled in a chauffeured car from Bingo at Hotel Chantelle, and noticed how dead the streets were as Manhattan has already emptied out to the fantasy playgrounds of the last-gasping summer. The bon vivants at Catch were in no rush. They truly believe that the party always starts when they get there. Every table was a success story. Every table was offered food and drink suitable to worldly tastes. This crowd was in no hurry to get elsewhere as they all knew full well that they had already arrived.

We were whisked upstairs to the roof like we were Elvis by a staff who probably could handle even that. The place was crammed with the beautiful.  I shook a lot of hands and kissed a lot of cheeks. It was deja vu…all over again. The never-ending party of the party set. The endless supply of luxury bottles. The eternal flames of the sparklers. The plush banquette, the music, the girls du jour and the girls of yore mixing it up with the swells who were spending the GNP of small countries for these females’ affections – or maybe just a minute, or three, of their time. All this while hipsters are starving in Bushwick.

It’s always the little things that tell you that management has shown the staff the way to this naughty nirvana. Like, an hour in, when I thought I had lost my jacket and a nearby security guard immediately noticed and helped me with a flashlight. He found it at the table next to mine, moved by a model type who wanted to get up there and dance and didn’t want to soil it. He assured me that I could put it down again and that he would be watching it. I believed him. I noticed a few promoter types keeping it on the low to help maintain the illusion that this was happening organically.

As the bottles popped, we were surrounded by the smiles of the party girls, the b for beautiful, but not quite campaign models so I-can-be-out-this-late girls, and the genuine grade-A bonafide girls. Our table was a spending table and I assume the one next door was an "image" table put there to assure us that we were indeed at the end of the rainbow. The six-foot Russian blond, possibly looking for that proverbial pot of gold often found at ends of rainbows, was apologizing to me for something she didn’t do. Amanda laughed at my naiveté. That girl or someone just like her is always there. She was there before she was born.

Bottle after bottle with their 4th of July-esque flares sizzled by. They moved through the crowds like Olympic torch bearers bringing expensive wheat juice to players who long ago earned their gold.  Jeroboams of champagne and their beautiful, happy, delivery systems passed by every few minutes, The sparklers lit up the ceiling, a signal for one rich suit to show off to the next and buy yet another bottle for their table of worshippers. DJ Politick was taking us all to that mindless frenzy we need to justify the love. I was told he was a DJ AM protégé. I was told he’s a big deal in LA. He was a big deal last night in NYC. I don’t usually enjoy the style of music offered by mixed-format types, but he was real smooth,and his mixes of stuff I don’t like into stuff that I love made me enjoy it all. This guy is…superior.

Catch Mondays is killing it and it couldn’t happen to nicer guys .I chatted up owners Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum who are living proof that nice guys can indeed finish first.

EMM Group Opens The General, A Sure-Fire Hit

I’ve was invited to the friends and family opening of The Generalthe new restaurant from EMM Group at Bowery and Spring. EMM is Eugene Remm, Mark Birnbaum, and Michael Hirtenstein. They are the force behind Abe & Arthur’s, CATCH, CATCH Roof, CATCH Miami, Lexington Brass, SL, SL East, Tenjune, Chandelier Room, Revel Nightlife, FINALE, and Bow, and lots of other stuff. Bow and Finale are the other parts of the Spring and Bowery space that once housed Boulevard and Crash Mansion. Executive chef Hung Huynh of Top Chef fame offers up modern Asian cuisine in a red-chaired gilded wallpapered paradise. All the inside-info is here.

Opening up this time of year is interesting. Most operators look to open in the early or late stages of spring or fall, and with 300 seats, there will be a lot of kinks to be worked out. Groups like EMM have fewer kinks than most.  Opening now allows the place to hit its stride as the nice weather and affluent snowbirds return. They can do no wrong in my book. The General stretches the Bowery strip from its previous above-Houston Street border where joints like Daniel Boulud’s DBGB, Gemma, Peels and many others serve neighborhood residents and well-heeled visitors. This is not the Bowery of my youth. Little Steve Lewis trivia: my great uncle was one of the famed Bowery Boys.

Most clubs reported near-normal attendees for the week after New Year’s but much lower revenues. People went out but seemed to be tapped or burnt out.  For all except for the very top operators, New Year’s Eve is a loss when you account for the naturally slower nights preceding it and the after-effects. I’m still beat up from all the rushing around, and Christmas bills are still being paid. Getting me out requires special coaxing.

Many people obviously get terribly drunk on New Year’s Eve and try hard to slow it down for a couple of weeks. Then there are those resolutions which often include a step back from the boozing. My resolutions always end in a vow to break all my resolutions ASAP. We are still enjoying tourist dollars, but those will fade away as vacation bucks tend to fly to warmer climates this time of year. The cold keeps people in and, well, you get the idea.

EMM group is way ahead of this game. They have a built-in clientele that’s enamored with all their other joints. CATCH is still more than killing it, and the word "NEW" is always a sure draw. The General, a NEW offering from an established hospitality group enters as a sure thing. I’ll keep you posted.

EMM Group’s Sweetest Weapon: Pastry Chef Thiago Silva

Arriving ravenous to an interview with a renowned pastry chef was a bad idea. I knew it the moment Thiago Silva – the 28-year-old Brazilian executive pastry chef behind all OF EMM Group’s restaurants –  placed a massive, glazed green tea donut and mini honey jar before me, and uttered three little words: “It’s cream-filled.” With that, I was off to the races, cutting open the donut, scooping up the green tea mascarpone cream, drizzling the honey all over its lemon honeycomb-topped self, and leaving no crumb behind. Thiago wasn’t fazed. It’s most patrons’ natural response to the signature dessert at The General – EMM’s newest hotspot: an Asian-inspired bar, restaurant, and downstairs jazz lounge.

But at The General, the doughnut doesn’t stop there; the Bowery spot has become known for Thiago’s most nostalgic, breakfast creation: cereal-topped doughnuts. Yes, doughnuts topped with Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and filled with their respective cereal creams. “A lot of people think I was high when I came up with the idea,” Thiago says. “But I wanted a breakfast item, so I combined my favorite breakfast cereals with my really great doughnut recipe.”

The doughnut recipe is another wildfire idea Thiago’s concocted that’s become EMM Group’s top-ordered dessert across all their restaurants. On the sweets menus of their spots CATCH NY, CATCH Miami, Lexington Brass, and Abe & Arthur’s, you’ll find one signature doughnut. For CATCH Miami, it’s their key lime doughnut. At The General, it’s green tea. For the rest it changes, with flavors like pumpkin and peaches and cream.

But Thiago – the man who grew up in Astoria and ironically bellowed “Feed me, feed me, Seymour” in his star-turn as the man-eating house plant in his high school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors  – brings more than doughnuts and plated desserts to NYC. He’s also a master of cakes, known for creating outrageous cakes for EMM’s clients, most notably a four-foot-by-four-foot 16th birthday cake with a confetti cannon, fog machine, and lights. Suddenly, the chef doubles as an electrician.

“I googled how to do the electrical and wood work for the cake,” says Thiago. “And that’s what I love about making cakes – you never make the same cake twice, you never know what kind of order you’ll get. It’s a collaboration with the client, and you’ve got to deliver and make it memorable.”

Thiago, who’s had no formal culinary training, has made lots of memorable cakes for folks you might recognize: Brooke Shields, three cakes for Sofia Vergara, and the entire New York Giants squad, the day after they won the Super Bowl.

“That was the best, they’re my team,” says Thiago. “And Sofia is funny; she told everyone at the party that she stayed up all night making the cake.”

But nowadays the chef is staying up all night for a whole new reason: he and his wife have just had a baby boy. Full name: James Brenden Silva (adorable video here).

“He’s my favorite kind of sweet,” Thiago says. “Him, and tiramisu.”

The General

Learn more about chef Thiago Silva, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

This Week’s NYC Happenings: Open Market, Film Feast, The Big Cheesy

MONDAY: Meat & Greet At The Meatpacking Fundraiser
Diane von Furstenberg and Theory’s Andrew Rosen are among the boldface names coming out tonight for the Meatpacking District Improvement Association’s inaugural fundraiser. Highline Stages will host, with the whole neighborhood on hand for sampling. The Misshapes and Nancy of LCD Soundsystem are on DJ duty. Food and booze will be provided by the likes of Catch, Bagatelle, and Serafina. Joie, Jay Godfrey and, of course, VF highlight the sample sales.

Open Market at Highline Stages (440 W. 15th St., the Meatpacking District) starts 8pm, Monday the 18th. General admission tickets are $150. To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

TUESDAY: A Reel Cool Time At Nitehawk
Nitehawk Cinema takes dinner and a movie to a new level as part of their Tuesday night series known as “Film Feast.” Chef Sarah Nguyen of Marc Forgione lays out five courses of French cuisine while you enjoy the Parisian flair of Amélie. Absinthe will be paired, d‘accord.

Film Feast’s Améliescreening is at Nitehawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg) at 7:30pm, Tuesday the 19th. Tickets are $95. To learn more about the cinema, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SATURDAY: Say Cheese
Pop-up competition The Big Cheesy returns with seven melt masters squaring off at Openhouse Gallery. Returning champs Melt Shop will defend their grilled cheese crown against the likes of Murray’s Cheese Bar, ’wichcraft, and Sons of Essex.

The Big Cheesy at Openhouse (201 Mulberry St., Nolita) runs from noon–7pm on Saturday the 23rd and Sunday the 24th. Tickets are $25. To learn more about the gallery and event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in NYC by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email.

EMM Group’s FINALE Brings The Edge Back to NY Nightlife

FINALE, the long-awaited EMM Group entry at 199 Bowery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, has finally opened – and it’s a game changer. This is a place created by a well-heeled, bottle sales-based group with creativity at its core. To those who pooh-pooh bottle service and blame it (and Rudy Giuliani) for all the terrible things that have ever happened to New York nightlife, I say pooh-pooh to you. Without bottle service, burgeoning rents, insurance, and salaries would have buried nightlife. The problem is that clubs banking for big bucks have catered to the bores with black cards, a scene that’s unbearable to the artistic set. FINALE embraces the downtown scene with performance types on staff, and bartenders and waiters dressed and ready to perform at the drop of a beat.

For far too long, entertainment in major nightclubs has consisted of little more than a forced smile from a wannabe model rushing through the crowd holding a fiery stick while a DJ plays tracks the rich dudes and their lady friends love to hear over and over again. But FINALE offers the hope that, in an effort to set themselves apart from the pack, operators will once again employ creative types to define their brands.

Back in 2007, The Box thought outside the box with its Did-I-just-see-that? brand of entertainment. For some, it went too far, but The Box is still there, and Sleep No More and other nightlife fringe concepts are bringing in creatives and spenders in equal measure. Their devotion to pushing downtown artistic programming has been justly rewarded. FINALE offers an opportunity for the public to expect even more. If it continues its success, other operators will follow its lead, and maybe the suits and ties will no longer dictate club programming. From my experience, once you start traveling towards the edge, a great deal of the public becomes interested and wants more.

EMM provides balance as they balance their bottom line. The artful mixing of downtown with the swells has worked for eons and is working at FINALE now. Plus, having a management team that’s in tune with the times helps.

Some words from the founders:

“Nightlife in New York is a bit stale at the moment—nothing new or different has opened in several years,” says co-owner Mark Birnbaum. “Both the timing and the new Lower East Side location of FINALE are perfect to attract new customers who don’t go to the Meatpacking District or Chelsea to eat and party, while bringing many of our current clientele along with us.”

“Moving down to the Bowery puts us in a unique position,” adds partner Eugene Remm. “Just as Bungalow 8 emerged on West 27th Street, and Lotus took root in the Meatpacking, we hope to be the first to bring an entirely new concept to the area. With this project, we break away from our current mold and create something entirely new on all fronts, from our music format to the location itself and the ways in which we can creatively program the entire space.”

Whether the big spenders will continue to be comfortable heading that far downtown to experience an increasingly weird mix of entertainment—and whether the creative set will keep emerging from their Brooklyn lofts to lend artistic authenticity to the nightlife venue—is far from certain. But with success stories like Abe & Arthur’s, CATCH, SL, and Tenjune in their portfolio, EMM’s Birnbaum, Remm, and partner Michael Hirtenstein are just the men to turn the mix into magic.

Industry Insiders: Meet Chris Hessney, EMM Group’s VIP Manager

Celebrity sightings are just a day in the life for Chris Hessney, the VIP Manager for EMM Group and their property CATCH, one of New York’s most exclusive seafood spots. “Since CATCH is a major destination, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a celebrity or ten dining at a table near you, a model, or a business executive of a company you’re a fan of.”

But more than the sightings, it’s the little moments that keep Hessney psyched about working at the Meatpacking District restaurant. “I love watching guests’ over-the-top reactions when we set the crispy whole snapper or the Cantonese lobster on their table,” he says. “Our one-year anniversary brought in over 800 groups of guests on a Monday night, which was an absolute blast.”

Top-notch New York food and hospitality has been the mainstay of Hessney’s career, where he was maitre’d at Morimoto, and manager of The Standard Grill. And it was at The Standard in 2008 where he first met EMM co-founders Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum. “EMM was the perfect next step for me,” Hessney says. “With them, the sky’s the limit.”

Find out CATCH chef Hung Huynh’s favorite app here.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter.

In Their Own Words: Four Entrepreneurs’ Favorite Apps

What do a dominatrix, two celebrity chefs, and a fitness founder have in common? Not much. So we brought them all together under one umbrella question: “What is your favorite app?”And like most things that can fit inside your phone and purse, these apps give great insight into who these stop-at-nothing entrepreneurs are. It’s like hacking into someone’s cellphone, but with descriptive consent. Here are these four visionaries’ favorite apps, in their own words.

Aarón Sanchez
Aarón Sanchez is the co-star of two Food Network series (Chopped and Heat Seekers), and the culinary visionary behind NYC’s taqueria Tacombi, Kansas City’s Mestizo, and Crossroads restaurant at House of Blues nationwide. Sanchez was recently a guest chef at the White House and received the “National Award” at the Flavors of Passion Awards, honoring the nation’s best Latin chefs.

"Since my wife, a pro musician, and I are constantly on the road, we like to use SongKick to find which of our favorite bands are playing in the cities we travel to. It’s also a great way to track lesser-known artists who may not have the reach of bigger acts. It’s brilliant.”

Brynn Jinnett
Brynn Jinnett is a former dancer with the New York City Ballet and the founder of Refine Method, a chain of boutique circuit training studios in NYC, whose clients have included Ivanka Trump and Kelly Ripa. Rooted in the latest research in exercise science, Refine exercises your body by using its own weight – pairing squats, kicks, and pushes with its own unique pulley system and high-intensity cardio. Since opening in 2010, Jinnett’s Method has exploded, expanding to three locations across NYC.

“My favorite app is MindBody Biz Mode [FREE], which allows me to schedule clients on my iPhone. With our third location opening this month on the Upper West Side, it’s great to be able to manage multiple locations while on the go!”

Hung Huynh
As the executive chef of NYC’s Catch seafood restaurant in Meatpacking and third season-winner of Top Chef, Hung Huynh is joining with EMM Group again to open the second outpost of Catch in South Beach, inside the James Royal Palm on Collins Avenue.

“My favorite app, Seafood Watch [FREE], keeps me up-to-date with current and fresh fish from the area’s nearby restaurants and stores, inspires new ideas, and educates me on the importance of sustainable seafood.”

Nina Payne
Nina Payne is the founder and president of Domi Dollz, a company of professional dominatrixes who bring kink out of the dungeon and into the mainstream with their New York-based workshops and educational performances. This month, the Dollz are launching their first eBook titled Kinky Amour; with personal stories and kinky tips from Payne and company, as well as video tutorials and photographs, the Dollz’ teachings will be downloadable and available worldwide.

“The Domi Dollz love the Dirty Game – Truth or Dare app [FREE]: it’s a huge collection of very naughty and wild truth or dares. It’s such fun to revisit the game we played as teenagers, bring the app to parties, and spice things up.” 

Hurricane Hell: 12 Great NYC Spots to Visit In Your Mind Today

Hurricane Sandy got you housebound? Don’t die of boredom, hit your liquor cabinet, think about all the great bars and restaurants in New York, and take a mental stroll through them all. To get you started, I’ve made a list of a dozen winners that I love. Check them out, agree or disagree, and then dream up a perfect NYC itinerary of your own. When the weather eventually improves, work through your list in real life. It’s like Imagination Christmas, and just as cheap. Continue on to our list of 12 New York Spots I Wish I Could Visit Today Instead of Being Stuck Inside Thanks to Hurricane Sandy

Hey, it beats playing solitaire by candlelight.