The Women Behind The Dalloway On Their Lesbian Prom

The Dalloway is a bi-level restaurant cocktail lounge located at 525 Broome Street in Soho. From their release: "Owners Amanda Leigh Dunn and Kim Stolz have had a strong influence on New York’s lesbian scene and The Dalloway, their first collaboration, was born out of a desire to create a venue with a strong female team that is open to everyone." 

Co-owner Amanda Leigh Dunn was previously the owner of Cross Street Productions, directly across the street from the restaurant. She designed The .Dalloway. She is best known, however, for her starring role in  Showtime’s The L Word. Co-owner Kim Stolx is a former MTV News correspondent who became further known as an America’s Next Top Model contestant. She worked at MTV as a news anchor, wrote a book (Can’t Stop) and worked on Wall Street. They grabbed Noche’s Vanessa Miller as executive chef who famously started working restaurants as a teenager.

They’re having a Lesbian Prom on Valentine’s day and "The Biggest Singles Night Yet" on Tuesday, February 12th to ensure romance on the big day. I asked them to tell me all about it.

The Dalloway…tell me about the name.
Amanda Leigh Dunn: Kim came up with the name (as mine were absolutely terrible). We felt that it was important to be both subtle but still hold meaning. Virginia Woolf is known through her writings to be a closeted lesbian whose death attributed to not being able to come out and find herself. Mrs. Dalloway was our favorite book of hers, so The Dalloway came to be. We want everyone to feel welcome, comfortable, and safe, and we think the name holds a nice significance to those who know its meaning. 

The restaurant is lesbian-owned. Is that newsworthy… important to mention? Important to the brand?
ALD: I think it’s more that when someone looks up to you for being comfortable being out to the public, it makes them more comfortable. And Kim and I are very publicly gay. It was much easier for us to get the word out quickly. I think it is important to the brand, because Kim and I are extremely involved, and always make sure one of us is always there. We want everyone to know that they are as important to us as we are to them. 

Tell me about the lesbian prom.
ALD: The prom is on Valentine’s Day. It’s going to be amazing. We have a photo booth, and are decorating the whole place to look like high school prom. A lot of girls weren’t out in high school, or didn’t feel comfortable bringing someone of the same sex, so it’s going to be really fun. I’ll definitely be there in a full tux. Everyone is welcome – they just need to RSVP to BeMine@thedallowaynyc.com. There is no cover or fee. We just want everyone to have a good time.

Is this an exportable brand? Will Dalloway pop up in Vegas? LA? Miami?
ALD: I guess time will tell, but it’s definitely not out of the question. 

Tell me about the menu and what a patron might expect
ALD: We are new-American small plates, so it’s perfect for the indecisive foodie. Everything on the menu is priced around $10 – so we recommend 2-3 items per person. People really love to share various plates. Vanessa Miller is our chef. She is absolutely amazing. She is the youngest female exec chef in the nation, and is always coming up with amazing specials and innovative takes on traditional dishes. Her food has been getting rave reviews and she definitely doesn’t disappoint.

Industry Insiders: Clarice Lam, Chef and Owner of The Baking Bean

Clarice Lam swapped Prada sportswear for kitchen whites when the former model-turned-baker launched The Baking Bean, an online pastry business. Everything from rosemary butter croissants and raspberry to mango peach pie is made to order and delivered to your door. Here, our September 2012 Industry Insider and sweets-expert shares what inspired her to dive into the pastry business, the challenges she’s overcome, and how sweet it is to do what you love.  

How did you first launch The Baking Bean?
I had always been doing special orders and custom desserts for friends, and through word-of-mouth on the side. At their behest, I put a name to it, and thus The Baking Bean was born.

What makes your business unique from other online pastry companies?
We don’t have a set menu. You can really order anything your heart desires AND it will be delivered to you! We also offer a monthly dessert club, which for $100/mo you can get four desserts a month, with one delivery per week!

What’s your favorite treat on the menu, and how would you describe your signature style?
I love the peanut butter and jelly smores. It’s peanut butter shortbread cookie with raspberry jam and marshmallow, all enrobed in Belgian milk chocolate and topped with peanuts and fleur de sel. So addictive! And my style is definitely elegant, whimsical, and a little bit of street.

You’ve worked as a model for years, traveled and lived in various parts of the world, and studied fashion. How has that lifestyle informed your current work as a baker?
Thanks to my travels for 10+ years, I was able to study the food from different cultures while simultaneously being influenced by the beauty of those cities. All of those flavors have made their way into my work now.

What do you love and not love about the pastry industry?
I work in pastry because it’s my passion and because I love it. What nobody loves about the industry, whether it be pastry or savory, is the pay. We work really hard for not that much, but we do it because we love what we do.

You’ve encountered and overcome great trauma as well. What would you say was the foremost thing you learned from that experience years ago, and how has that lesson affected your work?
Being in an accident that left me nearly paralyzed or dead has taught me to never give up and to always fight and work harder. It has made me even more driven than I already was. When I first started in this industry and still had problems walking, I never used it as an excuse to do a mediocre job or to catch a break, and I never will. I will always use any hardships that come my way to make me a stronger and better person.

What’s your ultimate goal with your business?
Let’sput it this way… if someone were to be shown an ink blot of something resembling a cake, I would want their response to be The Baking Bean.

For a list of all of Clarice’s favorite spots for sweets, click here

‘Yes, Chef’: Marcus Samuelsson’s Memoir Debuts Today

You may think you know the owner of Red Rooster and Ginny’s Supper Club; he, after all, made Scandinavian cuisine cool through his work at Aquavit, won season two of Top Chef: Masters, and cooked for President Barack Obama’s first state dinner at the White House (remember the party-crashers?). But those are just some of the crowning moments in Marcus Samuelsson’s vast cooking career.

Now, after five years, the 40-year-old chef has completed his memoir Yes, Chef, and Samuelsson is ready to tell the world his whole story starting with his journey from Ethiopia to his adoptive home in Sweden. Naturally, many of Samuelsson’s childhood memories revolve around food, and quickly you get sense of the young chef emerging. It’s less of a play-by-play of Samuelsson’s life, and more a game plan on how to reach for a dream, a difficult but delicious dream, speckled with triumphs and failures.

“For me a book like that is inspiring and I can inspire,” the 40-year-old chef said over the phone. “And it can be inspiration whether you are into food or not.”

Another big thing Samuelsson delves into that separates his story from other chef memoirs is his feelings towards growing up black in a world of white people. It’s not an account of bitterness or feeling ostracized, but more one of childlike innocence to race politics—a good kid who gets picked on because he is different—not surprising given he grew up in the land of Vikings. As for his roll as a successful black chef, Samuelsson said, “It’s definitely helped people see that it’s possible, and we all need role models.”

One of my favorite lines in the book about this subject and Samuelsson’s first time in New York reads, “I stepped into the terminal, the first thing I noticed were all the black people, they were everywhere.” He goes on to say, “The second thing I noticed was that no one was looking at me differently. No, scratch that: No one was looking at me at all.”

Today, everyone is looking at the stylish, handsome chef who has seemingly taken over the culinary renaissance of his new home in Harlem. With his two restaurants, Samuelsson hopes to give more opportunities to residents interested in a restaurant or culinary career. “For me it’s about constantly evolving what Red Rooster is,” he said. “We will continue to evolve with our dining scene and we will evolve when Harlem is ready and when we are ready.”

Samuelsson’s book is now available, and this week he celebrates his book with various events across the city including tonight’s discussion at Barnes and Nobel in Union Square with Ruth Reichl, one of his first fans and the New York Times reviewer who gave Aquavit a three-star rating when Samuelsson was at the helm. Other events include a conversation between the chef and fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi at Powerhouse Arena at 7pm on Wednesday; a three-course dinner for $125 at Ginny’s Supper Club at 7:30pm on Thursday; and a cooking demo and book signing at Macy’s Herald Square at 6pm on Monday, July 2.

Three Italian Newcomers Hit The Big Apple

The pizzeria. The trattoria. The ristorante. In New York, there’s no shortage of Italian cuisine, which forces these restaurants to do something different to stand out from the pack. Newcomers Pranzo, Fratelli La Bufala, and Rafele are out to one-up the competition with authentic Italian recipes and original cooking methods.

Eataly’s lunch-only Pranzo is freshly open in chef Lidia Bastianich’s la scuola di Eataly classroom. The changing prix-fixe menu offers a gamut of regional Italian cuisines. An open kitchen lets you watch Lidia herself make at least one of the dishes, Food Network-style.
 
The international Fratelli La Bufala chain is an authentic Italian institution that has finally come to NYC. They specialize in personal-sized pizzas featuring Mozzarella di Bufala Campana cheese. The Irpina pie gets earthy with additions of ham, mushrooms, and bufala cream.
 
Named after chef/owner Raffaele Ronca, the West Village’s Rafele serves Neapolitan fare with an emphasis on local ingredients. The imported wood-burning brick oven and rotisserie pump out specialties, like porchetta and stuffed quail. The wood is tweaked with various liquors – another way of layering in flavor beyond New York’s Italian every day.

Las Vegas Opening: Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas

Who would have imagined it would have taken Gordon Ramsay this long to finally plant a flag in a city that is, one must admit, so like himself in so many ways: loud, unapologetic, and ever undaunted. His first Las Vegas venture (what took so long?), the silver-tongued Scottish chef’s new namesake steakhouse in the Paris Las Vegas hotel is appropriately full of flash and cheek.

Dine under a massive Union Jack, pass by Andrey Brezowsky’s neon light sculpture, and traverse the  "chunnel" that leads to the bar and lounge area. The menu is stocked with dry-aged steaks, Kurobuta double pork chops, and fish and chips. A wine list with 325-plus labels and more than thirty beer selections means tipplers will also not be disappointed.

DC Eatery Masa 14 Opens New Rooftop Space

It’s been fifteen years since Maya introduced New Yorkers to haute Mexican dining. Now, chef Richard Sandoval resides over one of the biggest independent restaurant empires in the country. And his super-chic DC eatery Masa 14 starts with the Sandoval essence, new generation Latin-inspired small plates, and is now adding to it what is sure to be one of the capital’s top new party scenes.

Indeed, the sexy indoor dining room is now complemented by a fabulous rooftop space for up to 176 people. Communal seating and free-flowing sangria assures it will constantly abuzz. Pair the Kung Fu Chicken with a Lychee Lemonade cocktail for maximum carefree summer fun. 

“World’s Greatest Chef” Ferran Adria Discusses El Bulli and Future Projects

At the inaugural Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival in Mexico’s beautiful Yucatan Peninsula, Ferran Adria was the guest of honor. The famed Catalonian molecular gastronomist who was the former chef at El Bulli (coined "the world’s best restaurant" by Restaurant Magazine) spoke with BlackBook about the just-released DVDEl Bulli: Cooking in Progress, and his future projects. 

What are some of the restaurants you’ve been to, while in Cancun or in New York?  Where have you been surprised?
There are extraordinary restaurants, for sure, but it is really hard to surprise people who have been in the business, like me, for more than 30 years. I’ve been lucky enough to meet people like Michel Guerard and Thomas Keller, since ’75. I’ve read hundreds of books of contemporary cuisine, and it gets harder and harder to do new things. I’m, actually, more surprised with what’s happening here in Mexico with contemporary cuisine than in Europe.
 
There’s been a movement to replicate the elBulli highlights of the menu and some of the great things that you and your chefs have cooked over the decades at other restaurants. What do you think of that?
Some people have taken the El Bulli philosophy and have done a great job. Some of the most influential cooks in the west have worked at El Bulli. We must have done something right.
 
It’s been reported that you’re opening a Mexican restaurant in Barcelona. How will it differ from El Bulli?
That’s rather my brother Albert’s project with Francisco Mendez Velez ( "Paco Mendez"). Albert’s been to Mexico many times, and it has gotten into his skin. He wants to express some things with that. We shall see what happens. He is quite a purist, in terms of types of Mexican food, but he won’t be against a certain type of evolution. The one thing that’s a fact is that it’s going to be very informal.
 
And will you have anything to do with it?
I’m going to help. We will always work together. In this case, my brother is the boss. At El Bulli, I was the boss.
 
Would you ever consider opening a restaurant in Mexico or New York?
No. I want to help a lot of people put together a restaurant – young people. Production, I’m not interested in anymore. I’ve been working for 30 years – 16, 17 hours a day. Next! But there are many ideas and concepts I do share with people. This is the last food festival I go to until I’m with the El Bulli Foundation and I’ll see what happens.
 
[Photo: Richard C. Murray/RCM IMAGES, INC]

Industry Insiders: John Murcko, Park City’s Reigning Chef

Chef John Murcko was named “Best Chef in Utah of 2011” by Salt Lake Magazine. Let me say that again: He’s not just the best chef in Park City, the pristine ski town known for its upper-class residents and proximity to one of the biggest indie film festivals in the world, but in the whole irregular hexagon that is the state of Utah. He oversees two dozen or so spots in Park City, and his award-winning philosophy is to simply care about the environment and insist upon knowing not only where all of his organic, mountain-grown ingredients come from, but knowing the people who bring him that food. A life dedicated to the industry affords him those types of relationships.

Story goes you were interested in becoming a chef very early in life. When most parents were watching their boys disappear over the hills on bikes and skateboards, your dad was signing a waiver so you could wash dishes in a restaurant at the age of 14. On your request. Can you tell us more about being born in Michigan, and how you were able to find your passion so early in life?
I grew up in a town called Holly, Michigan. My father was in advertising and PR, and he had to travel to places like New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. He started taking us kids separately on trips. Dad was what I call a passionate diner, and he sought out great restaurants. When I was about 10, he took me to Manhattan and we ate at Tavern on the Green – in the garden room. I vividly remember him introducing me to artichokes there, and how to peel off the leaf to get at the meat. On another trip, we went to The Russian Tea Room. The maitre d’ had to loan me a coat to wear. I consider that a turning point in my interest in restaurants – I thought that maitre d’ was the ultimate guy I wanted to grow up to be like.
 
We also spent a lot of time at a house we had on Mackinac Island (in northern Michigan); this was our sanctuary as a family. We also became members of the Grand Hotel, which has operated since 1887. I loved eating at this historic hotel, watching the synchronized service in a dining room of 300 people. I was enchanted. Both my Dad, and a passionate Grandma, thought I should start in the bottom of the business. So my first job was washing dishes at a place called Little Bob’s – a family restaurant that was in business for nearly 50 years. It was just a little family restaurant with a buffet, but he obviously knew how to run a restaurant.  (Little Bob’s closed in 1994.)
 
After the dish-washing gig, and waaaay before you were named Best Chef in Utah by Salt Lake Magazine in 2011, there must have been other paths you considered. What greener grass almost pulled you in a different direction, or what kept you moving forward in a straighter line than most? To prepare you for where you are today, what has your professional background been like?
My brother always said, “If you want to be great at what you do, play with people better than you.” So early in my career, I moved a lot. I moved every six months to a year to a different restaurant, looking for the next mentor to learn from. Then, in my 20s, I came to Park City and I met someone I stayed with for 16 years. That was (legendary Park City restaurateur) Bill White.
 
Other paths? There are two I almost considered; when I came to Park City, I thought I wanted to get out of hot kitchens and be a pastry chef instead. I thought it offered better balance; I would no longer have to depend on a team and could be individually responsible for myself. I did that for a little while, but there’s nothing quite like cooking. Second, through the fault of budget and timeline, prior to the opening of a Park City restaurant (Grappa), I was also the lead carpenter. I really liked it, and found that I had some natural abilities. I liked the similarity of outcome that you get with cooking – you could go back and see the results of your labor. I also liked that you could have your nights free and not be cooking until 2am.
 
In the end, however, the things that frustrated me most when I was younger have become the greatest joys of cooking for me. At first, like many chefs, I wanted to do everything myself and control everything. (No one can touch my sauce!) But now, I love being a great mentor and watching young people progress (from sous chef to executive chef, etc.). It makes everything better, you get more done, the quality goes up when you become a great leader, teacher, and mentor – not just a chef.
 
Partnered with the Toronto-based Talisker Corporation, you oversee two dozen different dining venues in Park City. How exactly did that come about, and how is that even possible to manage?
Talisker had a vision for food and beverage and flew in chefs from all over, but they couldn’t find someone who they felt understood the company culture. Dana Keele, human resources director for Canyons, said she knew someone right here in Park City and reached out to me through my wife, Kelli. After 16 years at Bill White, I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. Over the course of several interviews, they determined I was the person who understood their company culture of integrity and quality.  
 
An average day must always be above average; can you walk us through your upcoming week? What are some of the more interesting responsibilities?
(laughing) Right now we’re preparing for some really exciting events for the Sundance Film Festival, while making menu and system adjustments on our flagship restaurant, The Farm. During Sundance, our restaurants are packed, we’re catering private parties and events, and we have a ton of VIP functions. For example, we’ll create comprehensive dining “experiences” in our yurts, which are beautifully appointed, private circular tents. On top of all that, this year, Talisker is catering Artist at the Table, the $1,500/plate Sundance Festival Kickoff dinner that accompanies the Opening Night Premiere film. Worth magazine named it one of the 10 hottest tickets for all events last year. It’s an incredible opportunity to showcase what we do for hundreds of interesting people including Mr. (Robert) Redford himself. So, January is always an exciting time – we’re incorporating enhancements based on the holiday season and making sure everything is fine-tuned for Sundance, President’s Day weekend, and the rest of the ski season. Plus, right now I’m hosting “Chef Tryouts” – I’m bringing in chefs to cook for me as I’m always looking for chefs who can complement and add to what we do.
 
Standing in the open kitchen of The Farm, one of Talisker’s flagship restaurants that focuses on ingredients sourced within 200 miles away of Park City, you have the perfect view of skiers and boarders descending the slopes. In fact, Ski Beach is just a snowball’s throw away. How do you not turn off your burners and grab your skis? If that’s not the biggest challenge of your job, then what is?
Any successful chef finds as much joy from cooking as anything else. It’s not a job – it’s a passion that I truly love. There are times when I work 100-hour weeks, but I also make time for my family. I moved to the mountains to spend time with my family, and spring and fall, in particular, there are literally countless springs and falls to hike and bike to in the Park City area. I still ski as much as I can, but we have an expression among chefs, “Speed of the chiefs, speed of the tribe.” Right now, the chief and the tribe are both speeding!
 
Can you tell us about the recently-opened Bistro at Canyons? It’s the first restaurant of its kind in the U.S. serving modern American kosher cuisine, including Friday Sabbath dinner throughout the winter season.
To produce food under any sort of guidelines, does not mean quality has to suffer. I think kosher dining has suffered from a lack of attention and passion. Now, with people exploring dairy-free diets more often, we’re proving we can deliver world-class dining experiences under that guideline. And the quality of all the ingredients, from chicken to meat to produce, is second-to-none. We’re making exceptional, very healthy food. Dishes like the Beef Cheek Gnocchi or the Mustard Crusted Wild Salmon are exquisite! Additionally, the clientele is so appreciative and supportive that we are going the extra mile to serve them. The dining room is spectacular. With 85 seats, we’re able to provide the attention to detail that guests have come to expect of our brand.
 
Do you have any funny or interesting mountain anecdotes that occurred in the line of duty that you can share? Guests-gone-wild incidents, that kind of thing?
Most are unprintable (laughing). I will say I’ve gotten very creative in using several-carat diamonds as garnishes to entrees in order to help with wedding proposals.
 
What is the secret to your success? What advice would you give someone who is interested in doing what you do?
One of our secrets is that while this is a town built for tourism, we can’t forget that we’re a community. Every guest is our most important one – but we go out of our way to make sure our locals feel that way all year long.  
 
Since you’re overseeing these two dozen restaurants, your immediate future must be booked solid. Is that the case, or is there something exciting on the horizon for winter/spring and beyond?
Whats on the horizon? Refinement. We’re constantly looking at how we can be better. Summer is more and more of a time for Talisker and Canyons to shine, with more guests hiking, biking, and fishing every year. We’re looking at some exciting ways for our guests to enjoy our beautiful weather – and our great food – long after the snow has melted. Plus, I want to enter and win a National BBQ Cook Off!

Cannes Opening: Sea Sens at The Five Hotel

Montpellier Michelin-starred chef twins Jacques and Laurent Pourcel, having taken Paris by storm with Maison Blanche, have returned to les sud de la France, opening Sea Sens, a breezily chic new eatery in Cannes’ super trendy new The Five Hotel (the town’s first Design Hotels member).

Belly up to the luxurious mother of pearl bar or lounge on quasi deck chairs beneath surreally massive flower murals, while indulging in Asian-spiced market cuisine. Splurge on the Blue Lobster followed by one of Jerome de Oliveira’s lauded dessert creations. Sunday brunch is one of the Cote d’Azur’s best scenes.