Why Harlem Is In Vogue

Marcus Samuelsson in front of his Red Rooster Restaurant in Harlem (photo source:  Food Republic)

Marcus Samuelsson in front of his Red Rooster Restaurant in Harlem (photo source: Food Republic)

Everywhere I went in Harlem I felt welcome. I began to recognize a kind of hospitality that I hadn’t known before and that I hadn’t found in fine dining. In the Michelin restaurants in France where I trained early in my career, I was taught excellence in ingredients, presentation and manners. But I wasn’t taught the joy and magic I felt walking into the bars and soul food joints in Harlem.

Marcus Samuelsson, chef and owner of The Red Rooster

Read his op-ed, “Is Harlem ‘Good Now’”
New York Times, February 15, 2014

Gathering Crumbs from the Table – Info. dropping in on the First Obama State Dinner

Nikki Finke has a partial list of Hollywood guests for tonight’s White House state dinner for Indian prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife, Ms. Gursharan Kaur. Note the word “expected” which means the full guest list printed in tomorrow” Washington Post will confirm the validity of Ms. Finke’s source. Her post also says “Official.”

My guess is many of the “stars” will come from Ari Emanuel‘s client list for William Morris Endeavor. (The historic William Morris agency merged with Emanuel’s upstart Endeavor earlier this year. Emanuel is co-CEO and remains brother of Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff for the POTUS).

It’s a short blurb on Deadline Hollywood, so I’ll just post here:
Below is a list of expected entertainment industry attendees at tonight’s State Dinner hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for guest of honor Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India & Ms. Gursharan Kaur: Ari Emanuel, David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jeff Immelt, Michael Lynton and wife Jamie, Gayle King, M. Night Shyamalan, Steven Spielberg, Alfre Woodard, Blair E Underwood.

Also check the list against prominent campaign donors.

This morning the news media was able to provide small details re the chef, the entertainment, and the tent. Yes, there are so many people who need to be there, that a tent was ordered in to accommodate 320 or so guests. President Bill Clinton also put up the tent for a former Indian PM during his presidency.

The Washington Post will have a live feed of State Dinner information here. Or you can watch it LIVE on White House TV here. It starts at 8:15. Geez. If I had known it was being televised, I would’ve had an “unofficial state dinner party.” I’ll stick to my original plan – my homemade Kung Pao chicken with brown basmati rice. Then I need to get started on my apple pie crust. I’m not kidding.

I’m very interested in the menu as the guest of honor is vegetarian. The White House has brought in another guest chef from the east coast, Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit. I became familiar with Samuelsson through culinary writer and cookbook author Vertamae Grosvenor who gave me some background information about his being born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden. According to the Post, Samuelsson’s been harvesting ingredients from the First Lady’s organic garden.

The result: a menu featuring potato and eggplant salad, red lentil soup and roasted potato dumplings or green curry prawns.

And dessert….

The desserts – including pumpkin pie tarts and pear tatin – came courtesy of Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his team. The pears were poached in honey from the White House beehive, and the desserts were garnished with mint and lemon verbena from the garden.

It’s my understanding everything served will be home grown regional and in season.

A photo of the place setting has been released. [photo by Jim Young for Reuters]
First Lady Michelle Obama previewed the event with a group of high school students. This White House did not pull a Nancy Reagan. Guests will be served on the old Eisenhower china also used by the Clinton and Bush (W) White Houses.

Entertainment will be provided by Jennifer Hudson (Chicago chica and “Dreamgirl” the movie), A.R. Rahman composer for the Oscar winning film “Slumdog Millionaire” (I’m not sure how “Slumdog” played with the folks back home), and Marvin Hamlisch and his orchestra. If Jennifer Hudson sings standards at a moderate volume with Marvin Hamlisch, that’ll be cool. I really hope the finale won’t be a sing-along of “Jai Ho” for the PM.

Keeping my fingers crossed for the social secretary and her staff tonight. I feel their sweat. But their job is to not show it.

Update: This just in — Michelle Obama’s dress by Indian American designer Naeem Khan