Biggest Bash of the Year: Celebrating Indochine’s 30th Anniversary

Photo: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

NYC Institution Indochine rings in the big 3-0 this year, and on Friday, MAC helped celebrate with an affair attracting the most extravagant of characters. Layfag pranced around in a see through ensemble, sans bra or even pasties. In true foodie fashion, it was fitting that the belle of Top Chef Padma Lakshmi nibbled and socialized with the likes of Jenna Lyons and Brian Atwood.

Ladyfag bares allMAC COSMETICS HOSTS INDOCHINE'S 30TH ANNIVERSARYPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

John Demsey and Kelly BensimonMAC COSMETICS HOSTS INDOCHINE'S 30TH ANNIVERSARY

Photo: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Brad GoreskiBFA_10735_1303447Photo: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Jake Deutsch and Brian Atwood MAC COSMETICS HOSTS INDOCHINE'S 30TH ANNIVERSARYPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Jenna Lyons BFA_10735_1303454

Photo: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Josephine Meckseper and BlackBook‘s Hunter HillBFA_10735_1303553Photo: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Sante D’Orazio, Rodney Pool and Brian AtwoodMAC COSMETICS HOSTS INDOCHINE'S 30TH ANNIVERSARYPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Adam Selman and Mel Ottenberg MAC COSMETICS HOSTS INDOCHINE'S 30TH ANNIVERSARYPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Chelsea Leyland and Athena CalderoneMAC COSMETICS HOSTS INDOCHINE'S 30TH ANNIVERSARYPhoto: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

BFA_10735_1303926Photo: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Indochine’s Michael Callahan Joins Brooklyn’s Culinary Movement with Coco

The amusement over Brooklyn’s cultural explosion is no longer a subject for headlines, as most people in NYC and around the world are well acquainted with the borough’s emancipation. Brooklyn’s experimental nature has always attracted artists, musicians, and creative types of all sorts, but most recently its culinary movement is making Brooklyn a top destination for restaurateurs as well.

Michael Callahan has been part of the New York restaurant scene since the opening of Indochine in 1984. Through multiple partnerships and connections in the arts and literature worlds he was able to build a mini empire in Manhattan. Now, 30 years and 18 restaurants later, he came across the opportunity to open a place in his native Brooklyn, where his only partner is the landlord.

“I found this place through a friend” said Callahan, admitting to like the “word of mouth” way of Greenpoint.

“This used to be a chocolate factory, and is right next to the music venue Coco 66, so we spent a year renovating it and decided to keep the name Coco, it made sense.” Callahan’s Indochine, Bond St, Republic, and Kitichai all have a lot in common, from the cultural inspiration to their architectonic nature, but Coco is different.

“It’s my baby,” says the restaurateur. Callahan plans to sound proof and insulate the venue next door to create a place for local bands to perform, with the intention to bring in a more music-oriented crowd.

As you walk through the dimly lit hallway past the 12-seat steel bar, an open kitchen with glass windows invites diners to witness the process of what chefs Julie Farias and Joseph Capozzi call “elevated home cooking.” The restaurant’s layout and setup is in perfect harmony with this philosophy – simple, clean, and with a Brooklyn charm. You will feel at home as soon as you see the vinyl collection, tufted white booths, and tall wooden tables. The chefs periodically come out to talk about the dishes and are happy to share stories about the process of finding the best ingredients. According to Capozzi, what attracts him to the Brooklyn Culinary Movement is the emphasis on utilizing only local and seasonal produce, from the wine, to the bread and cheese. “The secret is to use simple recipes with extra loving,” says the chef as he comes over with a platter of grilled oysters with bourbon butter and seaweed beans. The flavors are exquisitely combined and of course, you feel the extra loving.  The $5 bacon cheeseburger is already a favorite, revealing the importance of having something for everyone.

Capozzi is also a veteran in this industry with 11 Madison Park, Ruschmeyer’s, and The Fat Radish under his belt.  One can’t help but wonder: what is it about them that makes it work? Looking at these restaurant veterans, it’s clearly not only about the food; it’s the atmosphere, the consistency, the location, and most importantly, how you treat people.

Coco had its first soft opening this weekend, serving only specials and a bar menu to those lucky enough to pass by and venture inside. A complete menu with items such as a grilled pork chop with cherry peppers and escarole and a root vegetable casserole with be available this week, along with a full bar.

Coco is located at 66 Greenpoint Ave (between Franklin & West), Brooklyn, NY 11222. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 6 p.m. until late. 

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See Xavier Dolan’s Stunning and Controversial New Music Video for Indochine’s ‘College Boy’

No stranger to controversial subject matter and evocative filmmaking, Canadian writer, director, and actor Xavier Dolan’s work is always fierce and distinguished. And with his new music video for Indochine’s "College Boy" he’s causing a stir in France

The black-and-white video stars Montreal actor Antoine Pilon as a high-schooler bullied by his classmates. The video takes us from his tortured time in the classroom to his life at home where he acts out his more violent impulses in the comfort of his bedroom. Again we see him back in school where his peers continue to taunt him, beat him up, and urinate on his face—culminating in his being crucified and shot at in the school yard. It’s a well-crafted and evocative piece of filmmaking that speaks to the senseless violence we see in both cinema and in our everyday life.

However, French TV has already censored the video and it’s caused an outcry amongst other channels as well. Speaking to Le Figaro, Dolan responded to the video saying, "It seems absurd to me that the clip is censored. Is it really more violent than all the movies that arrive on our screens every day? The question shouldn’t be – did I go too far? It should be – what’s stopping a group of teenagers from going this far, given how powerful the gun lobby is in the U.S."

See the full, uncensored video for yourself HERE.

A BlackBook NYC Valentine

Who says New York is cold and heartless? Every February 14, at least, we stop staring at our smartphones for a few hours and instead look adoringly into each others eyes. Here are some of our favorite places to share those looks of love.

Jo’s

Our vote for the perfect new generation romantic restaurant, it has the low lighting and cozy ambiance to inspire a bit of snogging–but is as hip as its Nolita address would suggest. In fact, Jo’s has been leading up to the 14th with their 13 Days of Love promotion, so those wanting to beat the crowds can come in to win special prizes on the 11th, 12th and 13th. On V Day, take her shopping for all manner of pretty little things in the neighborhood, then tuck into Jo’s special Southeast Asian menu, which includes a glass of the bubbly.

Indochine

Still the sexiest restaurant in NYC, locals can rekindle their romance with its unshakeable glamour–and visitors can come by to discover the legend. Since Valentine’s Day is the last day of Fashion Week, impress your love with what is sure to be a few A-list celeb sightings. And while the prix fixe menu plays to the current surf-and-turf trend, there’s also an option for starry-eyed vegetarians.

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London’s hippest digital gallery is dazzling Times Square with an artful take on romance. Tracey Emin’s series of artworks "I Promise To Love You" will be shown every night in February from 11:57 pm to midnight. Pledge your eternal love amidst the blind of the neon.

W Hotels

The quartet of NYC W Hotels (Lexington, Times Square, Union Square, and Downtown) are offering both "Taken" and "Available" packages. For those already hitched, the former includes in-room dining, champagne, a lovestruck music playlist, and a total do-not-disturb policy, including late checkout. Our faves are Union Square, for Todd English’s recently revivified Olives restaurant, and Downtown, for its 5th floor Living Room bar and lounge, with those spectacular, romance-inspiring views.

For other great ideas for after-dark destinations, check out the BlackBook New York Guide and download the BlackBook City Guides apps for iPhone and Android. And to keep up on the latest and greatest openings and events, subscribe to BlackBook Happenings, our free weekly email newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Monday. 

Industry Insiders: Mina Soliman, Style and Substance

Mina Soliman is a woman of many talents. She once served as the general manager of the legendary New York restaurant Indochine, she helped launch the Top of the Standard nightclub, and she has supported herself as a fit model for various fashion companies. "I have worked in fashion, nightlife, and hospitality for the last 20 years, and the best way to describe what I do now would be as an independent creative consultant," she says. 

To that end, she’s in the process of launching an upscale women’s swimwear line called Mina – soon to adorn fashionable beach bunnies around the world – while managing Red Bird, the catering company she owns. As if that’s not enough, she also works the door at Meatpacking District hot spot the Double Seven

Her background is no less eclectic. Born in Ethiopia, she moved to Saudi Arabia as a kid, went to boarding school in England, and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. "The truth of the matter is that working in fashion, organizing an event, hosting a dinner party, and working in nightlife is all about giving an experience," she says. "I enjoy constantly being on the move and working with different people, and I love the magic of collaboration and interaction." 

So what’s the secret to her success? "No matter what you do, it’s important to be honest and positive," she says. "Stay grounded, because it’s easy to get caught up in all the hype." 

A High Mark for Miami’s New Kane Steakhouse

Once upon another time, in a very different South Beach, there existed a singularly swinging spot called the Strand. Put into play by an incredibly well-connected Gary Farmer, former manager of New York’s iconic Indochine, the Strand was see-and-be-seen before there even was much of scene. Consequently, it’s since become something of a legend. So if the folks behind Kane Steakhouse have their way — and their wish — that certain something that made the Strand what it once was will grace South Beach all over again — and we’ll be better off for it.

From my view (and the views of those who truly make and shake South Beach), Kane already is a success, a foodie ‘must’ that doubles as a pre-club hotspot. Of course it helps that the eatery’s co-creators — The Glazier Group‘s Matthew Glazier and The Opium Group‘s Roman Jones and Justin Levine — happen to be three of the most successful folks in the afterdark biz. Then again, many main men (and women) have sorely discovered that one cannot rely upon prior successes alone, especially on this Beach called South.

That said, most of those who thought they could coast through to a win didn’t have such entertainment muscle behind them as Strip House (Glazier) or SET, Louis and Mokai (Jones and Levine). Otherwise, they’d have known one doesn’t simply stroll into the winner’s circle; one rocks and rolls their way there.

Some background: Roman is the son of Foreigner’s Mick Jones, which undoubtedly has something to do with Kane knowing how to keep its own beat. Levine is (was?) one quarter of the cadre called Empire Events, which, when combined with his and Jones’s Opium Group action, surely gives the joint a long leg up on the model-and-bottle crowd competition. Glazier’s family tree includes New York event spaces Bridgewaters and Twenty Four Fifth, in addition to six Strip House branches across the country, which shows Kane’s got deep roots in hospitality. You could also say Glazier’s pedigree proves the beautiful people business is in its blood. Add the fact that Kane may or may not be named after the brother the Bible insists was the world’s very first born, and, well, you’ve got quite a story.

But the wine and dine is only as good as the dinner that’s served, and in Kane’s case that’s about as fine as a wine and dine can get. This being a steakhouse, the owners have tapped a chef who made his, er, bones on the meaty side of the equation. We mean Daniel Ganem, ex of both Bourbon Steak and BLT Steak, who told Miami New Times “that [Kane’s] steaks are seasoned with salt and pepper then seared over a scorching 1700-degree flame to seal in the flavor, using oil instead of butter.”

Whatever Ganem does to get what he gets works proverbial wonders. The steak is simply scrumptious, with or without Kane’s own special sauce (my accomplice and I preferred it without). So too everything else we chose from the menu, from the lobster bisque and lump crab cake, to the grilled swordfish. Taken in tandem with the understated elegance of the place, Kane more than became a place-to-be. It became a place-to-be with a knowing sense both of what was and what may always be, given the right opportunity.

Celebrating Octavia McKinney’s Age & Life in NYC

Tonight, I will attend a birthday dinner for Octavia McKinney, an old and dear friend whose faults I’ve always forgiven. Octavia is part of my family of friends who’ve migrated to Los Angeles. The dinner will be held at Indochine, a joint I have been visiting for over 25 years. The thing about old friends and classic restaurants is that they make you feel like you belong—and that you always have belonged—even though life lets you drift away from time to time. Octavia is a legend, revered in so many nightlife circles. Tonight we will celebrate her life.

First of all, Happy Birthday! Without getting into how old you are, lets just say you enjoyed a long career in nightlife. Tell me about the clubs you worked in and what your jobs were. I started off working at Mars doing the ropes to the 2nd floor. I didn’t actually have ropes, so I used my legs in the doorway. I would ask for the password when there wasn’t one. I would say it was about me, and they would usually respond, “You’re beautiful!” and my legs would lift. Out of the way you dirty birdy. I danced on the bar and gave a Coke & Pepsi challenge at Limelight, entertained the crowds at the Building, waitressed and Maitre D’ed at Life (which gave me the start to a much better life—no pun intended—in the club world). Then I promoted places like Thompson Hotel & Tribeca Grand. Actually, Patty Doria, Marcus Woods, and myself were the first people to promote an ongoing downtown trendy party at a hotel. Then I promoted clubs such as Cain, Home, Quo, Aer—the list goes on.

Coming from Hawaii to the Gianormous Apple, what were you seeking, and did you find it? I lived in San Fran for 7 months before, but I was still wanting NYC. I saw a couple movies when I was about 10 that were filmed in NYC, and told my mom that’s where I want to live when I grew up. I just wanted the artistic freedom NYC had to offer.

Nightlife has changed. But you? Not so much. Why do you keep going out, and how are things different today than years past? Nightlife used to be about dressing up to go out and having a great time. It was all about giant clubs with many rooms to run around and get lost in. Kind of like an Alice in Wonderland feel. The bathrooms were coed, and people had sex and did drugs in them. There was an element of freedom to be who you wanted to be. The crowds were a mixture of everyone—gay, straight, bi, tranny, wall street, artist, jock— it didn’t matter as long as you dressed up. Now it’s all about having a table and being seen. Bottle service killed the club scene in NYC. Now I love the Standard Hotel’s Boom Boom Room and Le Bain. It reminds me of old New York. Glamorous and mixed. I just wished the wild element was still around. The hotels seem to be taking over the city. I miss old NYC.

Why, of all the Gin joints around town, did you choose Indochine? We have both been around for over twenty years in NYC, and we’re still standing tall, got the love, and respect of the city. We’re classic and delicious. Plus, I love Jean Marc. He’s a dear friend, and I’ve known many of the staff, so it’s like home to me.

Tell me a funny nightlife story. I walked into Love Machine and Larry Tee saw me. I was wearing a purple bustier and skirt with 5 1/2- inch stiletto patent-leather thigh-high boots. I had taken coat hangers and twisted my hair around them, creating horns that I painted day-glo yellow. Larry said Grace Jones was performing, and he would pay me $100 dollars to dance on the box closest to her while she was on stage. Naturally, I obliged. During the performance I swung upside down from the pipes above me. Steven Meisel, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell were watching me. Then I realized my boots were stuck and I couldn’t get down. I had to swing like a bat for 10 minutes—which is a very long time when the blood fills your head. Eventually I curled up and twisted my boot sideways and out til I came tumbling to the box with a thud. Pretty funny stuff!

Many of your closest friends have moved to Cali. This was not even a thought years ago, but LA has changed and you have matured. Will you make the move? If so, besides me, what will you miss most? I am not moving to LA, so there will be no missing you. I am a New York City bitch, and this is where this bitch belongs. I love my trips to LA to see my gaggle of friends, but someone has got to keep NYC on her toes. So looks like you’re stuck with me.

Parties: The Fashion Week Effect on Nightlife

Fashion Week has descended upon New York City, anointing new and yet-to-be-opened venues with its holy presence. Fashion houses and fashionable rags have shouldered their way into seen-and-be-seen restaurants and night spots, and have sold off their first born in order to offer their party guests a first look at some unopened places, like The Mondrian and the Darby’s buzzy basement. The perennial question: Whether to elect tried-and-true spots (or, in the case of Alexander Wang, gas stations and bounce houses) over what could be just a flash-in-the-pan hotspot. Herewith, a rumor-mongering and totally useless look at where all the week’s parties shall take place.

No Need for Dropping Bar Names Tonight, Stella McCartney will be watching out for our furry friends along with PETA, Tim Gunn, and Olivia Munn (last name rhyme-a-thon!) at her store for PETA’s Fashion Week fete. Also tonight is Waris Ahluwalia’s party at The Wooly to celebrate the buzzy launch of his line “Waris Loves You,” with Yoox.com and Karen Elson is rumored to perform with The Citizen’s Band. Not to be outdone, Fendi will be at Saks Fifth Avenue along with The New York Botanical Garden and a slew of fashion fixtures like Genevieve Bahrenburg, Byrdie Bell, and Lauren Remington Platt. We know this game all too well: we’ll have to leave our Frye boots at home. One place we can wear our beloved booties is the RETNA graffiti party at 560 Washington Street with fashion royalty, Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, with an after-party at good ‘ol Indochine. Itinerary: Stella McCartney The Wooly Saks Fifth Avenue Indochine

Hotel Playgrounds The James has proven to be a great new nightlife addition, frequented by a slew of designers and celebrities, which means the hotel’s newbie restaurant, David Burke Kitchen, will be a big draw for the fashion crowd, and the rooftop bar Jimmy, will be packed—per the usual. But really, the buzz is all about the VMAN party rumored to be held at the not-yet-opened Mondrian—more specifically, Imperial No. Nine, chef/cool-guy Sam Talbot’s new restaurant therein. Reason for the buzz: VMAN’s cover featuring Kanye West with money in his mouth, shot by Karl Lagerfeld. We’d love to see the confirmed guestlist, pretty please? And of course, don’t discount The Standard Hotel. Although it’s not spanking-new, Boom Boom room will continue to dazzle, and blogger workshops for the Independent Fashion Blogger’s Evolving Influence conference (featuring Proenza’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez) will be held at Le Bain. Itinerary: The James David Burke Kitchen Jimmy The Mondrian Imperial No. Nine The Standard Hotel Boom Boom Room Le Bain

On the Verge Speaking of Le Bain, the French connection will see to it that the delayed Le Baron New York will have a proper place to party. Aside from Alexander Wang (who may just be hosting a chill party at his Soho store opening on February 15th) another person everyone is trying to befriend in time is Andre Saraiva. His Paris club, Le Baron, has always been the spot for Paris fashion week, and conveniently, the New York outpost is rumored to be opening in March. Though it’s been reported that it isn’t officially ready in time for NYFW, that doesn’t mean it can’t host private events and quiet gatherings for Saraiva’s closest friends. But instead of temp fate (or the Community Boards) the splashy Le Bain will host Le Baron and family on two separate occasions: on Friday with Kitsuné celebrating “Kitsuné Parisien” with hosts/music done by Gildas, André Saraiva, Annabelle & Alexander Dexter-Jones, and Grand Marnier from 11-4AM. On Sunday, the Nouveau York weekly will also host “Late Night with Le Baron, with music by Alex from Tokyo, Manu (Supreme Records) and Lee (Hamsa). The Darby has been open for a while, but rumors point to a private basement opening party this Friday, with a subsequent party open to the public (whatever ‘public’ means to the Darby folks) next Wednesday. Also on everyone’s mind: Westway, a former strip club resurrected, has bloodlines from The Smile and The Jane. Charlotte Ronson’s after-party is one rumored party slot in Westway’s schedule. Itinerary: Le Baron Basement of The Darby Westway

Kittichai’s New Chef Ty Bellingham Speaks to Blackbook

Is it me or is there a Thai restaurant on every corner in Manhattan? The latter seems right: they’re as ubiquitous as ATM machines. And they’re not all that special, either (you have to go to Queens for that). Thankfully, New York City recently received one of the best Thai imports in the city’s culinary history. Ty Bellingham—who worked at the famed Sailors Thai in Sydney, Australia—has taken over Kittichai at 60 Thompson, giving it that Thai magic makeover. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s regarded as one of the world’s top Thai chefs. It took Ty a couple months to get acclimated, so we gave him some time to get down and dirty before getting the dish on his new adventure.

What are some of the changes we can expect at Kittichai? I have dedicated the last 15 years of my life specializing as a chef in authentic Thai cuisine. I have immersed myself in every aspect of it including learning about the culture, which is integral to eating the food. My passion for it has led me around the world, including running the most awarded Thai restaurant in Sydney, and traveling through Thailand many times. I guess my philosophy is, if it’s hard it’s usually worth doing. This means making our curry pastes, and lime juice coming out of fruit. No shortcuts are taken.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with your new position?
 I imagine getting fresh food is harder to get here than
 Australia. 
There are lots of ingredients I can’t get here that I
 can get in Sydney, but I’ve been surprised at the many 
things that I can source. There is a lot more here than I expected. 
I’m enjoying trying all the different types of chilies, fresh and 
dried. There are a lot more varieties here.
The initial challenge is learning all the seafood and meat.
 What’s good, what’s not, and 
what’s a good price. But my sous chef Bryan has helped me a great deal
 with that. Plus I am struggling with the different measures: Fahrenheit, ounces, pints and quarts.


What are some dishes you’ve introduced to the menu?
 I have almost overhauled the entire menu, leaving some of the 
Kittichai favorites.
 A personal favorite is my smoked trout on shiso leaf, with a
 caramelized palm sugar dressing. I did this for the Food Network’s
 Food and Wine fair and the Taste of New York events. It seemed the 
customers at those events loved this dish. 
I also have five different curries on the menu right now:
 Seafood with a citrus red curry, the classic green curry with chicken
 and Thai eggplant, and for the more adventurous, we have the pork tenderloin in a jungle
 curry paste, which is the hottest item on the menu. Curries are my 
favorite dishes to make and eat.

How do the Kittichai diners differ from who those you served back in
 Australia?
 Well, for one thing, diners in News York eat out a whole lot later. In
 Sydney, service would end around 10 to 11 pm. Thai food has been fairly prevalent in Australia for a while – probably due to our proximity to Southeast Asia – and so they are more used to
 ordering food family-style, which is how Thai food is supposed to
 be eaten. A meal would typically have a spicy, salty curry, crispy
 caramelized pork belly, a hot and sour soup, and a salad of some kind. But
 all this means nothing unless it is served with rice. 
I have noticed that people eat less rice here in New York City. Maybe 
it’s the whole carbs thing after 6pm.

What is your opinion of the Thai restaurants in NYC? I really have no opinion on Thai restaurants in NYC. I haven’t had
 time to eat out a great deal yet. 
But what I have recently read is that Thai food is the new Italian. So I
 think it is great that I am here in the city at a time when Thai food is getting
 the recognition it deserves. When it is done well, Thai can compete with the great food countries 
of the world. 
In Australia, Thai has replaced the local Chinese as people’s take-out
 of choice, it is literally that popular. It would be great to see
 Thai food as prominent as this in NYC.

What are some of your favorite restaurants (Thai or not Thai) in NYC? The restaurants in our group are fantastic and show a great range of diversity of cuisines. BONDST has great sushi, Republic at Union Square is great for noodles, and Indochine is still fantastically cool.