Pre- Fashion Week Events Popping Up, Spotlight on StyleLikeU.Com

Fashion Week is sort of like the groundhog that never sees its shadow for clubland. It portends a quick end to the cold winter. January, except for the three-day weekend that celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Day, is usually a financial bust for clubs, bars, and restaurants. Football playoffs help some of the venues and indeed defines revenue for the sports bars, but in general the post-Christmas cash crunch and New Years recovery spells trouble. Tourists, a huge part of our hospitality economy, do not come here during our frigid winters. A great many New Yorkers, often referred to as Snow Birds, head south to enjoy Miami, the Carribean, and other warm weather locales where "the season" is in full swing. Fashion Week carries joints through the cruel short month of February. Valentine’s Day provides a spending spike and then it’s on to the spring with all its sexy good times.

New clubs and spots are opening while others are sprucing up. Some are just getting their game together, hoping for a new beginning. Tomorrow night, two joints I designed are throwing events that they hope will expose them to an expanded audience. Open House was done as a favor for a small budget. The proprietors (and therefore me) seem ecstatic. It really is a comfortable space that has its old crowd dressing up and a new crowd coming in. The redux has attracted the fashion-centric StyleLikeU to their doors. They will be hosting a Pre-Fashion Week soirèe for StyleLikeU featuring hot DJs Louie XIV and Justin Dean Thomas. They will also be serving my boy Arty’s industry-defining tequila, Alacran. I caught up with StyleLikeU director of PR/marketing Jordan Middendorf and asked her about the event.
What is StyleLikeU?
StyleLikeU is the first video-based platform to give an intimate and "behind the scenes" view into an authentic subculture of tastemakers who express themselves freely through both their style and their lifestyles. With video interviews and photographs, StyleLikeU gives a diverse and democratic voice to those who inspire trends and whose unique style is empowering to others.
What separates SLU from the other zillion lifestyle publications/websites?
The depth and intimacy of the interviews, combined with the diversity of the sort of people we feature. It is  about their clothes, but it’s more about the person themselves and their story.
What is the statement you guys are making for Fashion Week?
We are bringing a sense of inclusion and community back into Fashion Week. The site is all about openness to different people, and the party celebrates that and all sides of the fashion industry itself.
How did you get involved in StyleLikeU?
I moved to New York in the summer of 2010 and was interviewing at all these different fashion houses for jobs where I would be paid to get coffee. So instead I took an unpaid internship at SLU where I knew I could actually make a difference and learn in the day-to-day. After around four months, we received our first round of funding and our entire "executive team", which until this point was executive in name only, were hired on. It was pretty thrilling and taught me, and I think everyone else that was a part of it at that time, that good things come with sacrifice.
Another event at another place I designed is set to redefine and therefore relaunch it. The former APL space was fraught with some bad luck and bad decisions mostly by people no longer associated with the space. The press has been very positive of the relaunch as The Orchard House. Ironically, in a NYTimes mention, they described the dècor as "touched by whimsy." Whimsy was one of the names I wanted to call it. I thought APL was a horrific name and said so loudly here. With new chef, ex-Jean Georges‘ Matt Redington the menu is more in line with a L.E.S. fabulous restaurant. The old guard seemed to be catering to an Upper East Side set that never came. The new guard kept most of the design intact but added some graffiti to spice things up. I hate the graffiti but understand the need to move forward. With Richie Romero and Chris Willard involved with the marketing, I expect great things. I have sampled the food and found it truly wonderful.
I am also pleased with a fantastic non-alcoholic section of the drink menu. I don’t drink. I am not an alcoholic or religious fanatic. Avid readers remember that I actually do imbibe two or three times a year… whenever I have sex. I love the un-boozed Pimms cocktail they used to make special for me but is now on the menu. Food is served until 3am and prices have become completely affordable. Tomorrow, February 8, I will walk from that pre-Fashion Week gala at Open House to Orchard House for a preview launch event. The party will feature Karlsson’s Gold Vodka, some passed hors d’oevres and music by Social Diva and Ody Roc. They’re calling the place The Orch and there is a history to that. Marketing maven Chris Willard explained:
"I grew up 2 blocks away from the restaurant, my whole family still lives down there. In the late 70’s early 80’s Orchard Street was the place to go in Manhattan for the latest in hip hop fashion.. Sheepskin coats, leather bombers, Lee Jeans, Le Tigre shirts, the flyest kicks, Cazel glasses, etc etc.. We would call it The Orch.. “Yooo, I copped these fly new Nike Air Force 1’s on The Orch today”..
They have a real nice website.

Buckler Soirèe, Sally Shan on the Winter Film Awards, and A Night Ending with Bereket’s Lamb Platter

I made the rounds in the Lower East Side/Nolita last night and, as usual, lingered too long at some places and therefore never got to other places. After the great Buckler soirèe at The Elsinore, I stopped at The Orchard House which was having a relaunch or preview of the new reincarnation. Scores of people I haven’t seen in a minute were making a scene. It was fun. I introduced Hotel Chantelle’s Kyle O’Brien whom I am DJing for tonight to nightlife empress Sally Shan. Sally and I used to hang, but life often pulls people who want to hang down different paths. She has made a name for herself, going from a sub-promoter drawing a dozen or so people, to throwing events for hundreds. She was with a wonderful restauranteur from San Juan, Steven Yiu. He owns the East restaurants there. We became fast friends and I promised to visit him on my next visit to the island. I told him about a super-secret, totally amazing sandwhich shop on the wrong side of the tracks. Guys like me seek out such places where time and the changing world haven’t yet corrupted. I directed him to this small spot where in-the-know locals of all classes wait in line for a half hour to try a Jerezma or seven potencias sandwhich. The place can be found behind  a Marshalls parking lot in Santurce. Steve affirmed that the hood is, well… quite hoody… and he has never heard of it but is heading there straight off. I told him to travel heavy. It’s worth it.

Sally is working on the events for the Winter Film Awards. She studied acting and directing at the very prestigious Central Academy of Drama in Beijing .She told me, "I’m really happy to organize the Winter Film Awards events. Being from the film industry, I know how much passion everyone puts into their work. Our after-parties will be able to truly celebrate and congratulate the filmmakers and actors for their accomplishments in film this year. The inaugural Winter Film Awards Festival celebrates cinema and performing arts in New York, February 9-12. The First Annual Winter Film Awards will air on American primetime television, featuring the winners for best studio film, indie film, and emerging performing artist."
Here is the press release about the festival:
The Winter Film Awards (WFA) is a celebration of cinema and the performing arts. The 2012 Winter Film Awards Festival will run from February 9-12 with a series of award ceremonies and special events.The star-studded launch event will take place in New York City on Thursday, February 9, 2012. The awards show will air on American Primetime Television, a new IPTV multi-platform network, distributed by Omniverse TV reaching over 45 million households.
“We are delighted to showcase the best of the best in film and performing arts at our festival and to have our award winners featured on APTV as part of its dynamic original programming”, says WFA President George Isaacs.”
As a precursor to the Oscars, the 2012 Winter Film Awards Festival will launch with the Winter Film Awards Major Studio and Latin Film Awards gala, which celebrates the outstanding film achievements of 2011, as recognized by the WFA Board of Governors. The Major Studio and Latin Film Awards will be presented on Thursday, February 9th, 2012, in NYC and will be nationally televised on APTV. On Friday, February 10th, 2012 awards will be presented for excellence in independent film to filmmakers who deliver outstanding work, but have not yet received a distribution deal. Award winners will receive national exposure on APTV. February 11th and 12th will round out the festival with the WFA Film Festival and Performing Arts showcase.
As part of the Competitions section of the festival, the performing arts showcase will be a forum where individuals from all areas of performing arts will compete for awards.  WFA is proud to announce its partnership with Cringe Humor for the comedy awards and live stand up competition.
The WFA Film festival is an IMDB-qualifying film festival.  WFA Call for Entries is officially open and filmmakers can submit their work here
Sally will be throwing the following events. Contact her on the world wide web for more info.
Fri, Feb., 10th starts 10-11PM at Hudson Terrace (w/ a one hour open bar); Sat, Feb., 11th starts 9-10PM at Sky Room (w/ one hour open bar); Sun, Feb., 12th starts 9-11PM at 1OAK (Awards Ceremony).
On the way home, I walked trhrough the wondrous snow with the intent to stop by Open House for a hello to Stylelikeu’s Jordan Middendorf at her pre-Fashion Week gala. Alas, as I passed Bereket, that wondrous joint of lamb kebob and late-night encounters, I was waved to by DJ Reach, with his billion dollar smile and my man Ash. I went inside and we talked for an hour, joined by a dozen or so denizens of the deep night who popped in to say hey or grab a bite. We shot the breeze and other stuff until it was too late to go anywhere but to bed in BBurg. My night’s agenda was a dozen or so "must attend" parties, but as it wound up, I just hit a few parties but reconnected with a dozen or so old friends and made a couple of new ones. I felt warm and fuzzy as I ate my delicious lamb and rice platter with Lulu and Buster. Amanda is back from a short trip today. I couldn’t sleep in her absence so I finished the first season of Heroes as the morning light told me last night was done and I could move forward with the purpose of today.

The Orchard House’s Snappy New Chef

Two months ago, Queens-native Steve Cruz didn’t have dreams of becoming the executive chef at a restaurant; he was happy creating whimsical cocktails for The Orchard House in the Lower East Side and running his own catering company. But when they needed a new chef, the owners asked Cruz to take the position. So, he did. “I loved this place when I first started here,” he said. “I knew food was lacking both in taste and presentation, and I am glad they gave me the opportunity to shine.”

The menu Cruz took over has kept some American comfort food staples (with his own little twists) like the juicy lamb sliders with tomato jam; but now they serve dishes including mac-n-cheese pancakes, challah French toast, and Cruz’s signature plate, the eggplant Napoleon with basil ricotta. Cruz, who is an alumnus of Art Institute of New York, has also brought his artistic touch to the table. This goes perfectly with the modern-meets-rustic décor of The Orchard House, which sports snazzy wallpaper made by graffiti artist Shepard Fairey.On a recent night, my friend and I were wowed with the creative and snappy display of multi-colored beet salad, spoons of yellow fin tuna tartar, and the bright way the braised short ribs were plated.

Cruz has been cooking with since he was 14 years old under the tutelage of his Argentinean grandmother. Before Cruz got this position, he worked at Rayuela in the front of house, and then went on to Cavo in Astoria. He started as a bartender at The Orchard House about eight months ago, and really wowed the crowed with innovative mixtures, that, while they taste fantastic, sound dubious. For example, were apprehensive to try the Figherfighter 12, a mixture of Stoli Hot, fresh strawberries and basil, lemonade, and aloe vera juice—but, it was a fantastic sweet, spicy, and savory drink that managed to still be light. Through the creative flavor combinations in his cocktails and dishes, you can see that Cruz has a lot of great ideas. Still, the chef is green and needs to cut his chops more at the stove, something he said he is eager to do. Right now, the best time to go is for happy hour drink and a nibble or their prix fixe brunch, which includes an entrée and three, yes three, cocktails for $18.95. And soon, Cruz said, they hope to add a drag queen DJ for the ultimate brunch party.

New York Opening: The Orchard House

It’s possible that no one was really sure whether the space’s former moniker, APL, stood for “apple” or “atomic power laboratory.” So its morphing into the more invitingly named Orchard House should solve a lot.

But the new restaurant skirts the trend towards homier, comfier eateries, with groovy Shepard Fairey wallpaper, artistically dangling sneakers, and sexy leather banquettes meant to evoke a 1930s Bugatti. The seasonal American menu includes sharing plates like warm crab fondue and fried pickles. DJs will spin into the wee hours of the morning.