Two Sisters Take New York
A whirlwind tour of New York puts sister chefs Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau right in the belly of the food beast
Their presentation at this year's Foodie Seminar is still being lauded and their booth at the Food Awards won rave reviews. We're not that surprised really that they left an amazing impression in New York.
The New York launch of our book Caribbean Potluck (Kyle Books) coincided with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation's celebration of Caribbean Week 2014, so we drew double duty repping the Jamaica Tourist Board as guest chefs. We were stunned by the turnout at the events, but apparently it's par for the course as people are very much into Caribbean food and they love the fun and happy energy of the islands. Here is a wrap-up of our week in the Big Apple.
You know when we are involved there always has to be some drama, so the week begins with the 2:00 am eviction of our staff from the apartment that would have been their base for the duration of our stay. Homeless and on the streets at 4:00 am is not the way we thought we would be starting this excellent adventure.
Despite our domestic misfortune, Monday morning dawns bright and early with a 5:30 wake up call and appearance on Fox 5's Good Day New York for a quick chat and cooking demo with co-anchors Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly (she of the famed Scotto family, that owns New York's Fresco). Burning the candle on both ends with very little sleep, we struggle through the day. Finally, on Monday afternoon, we find new digs from which our team can cook and prepare for all of the week's activities. With a night of prep and shopping ahead we get to bed real late.
At 5:00 am sharp on Tuesday morning we are up and ready for hair and make-up, which is totally reminiscent of the time when we were filming our TV show, Two Sisters and a Meal. A scheduled morning appearance on The Better Show is stalled and we wait a number of hours before we start cooking and filming. When we do, it's our Scotch bonnet cream of tomato soup and Dolce Jamaica pasta. As usual, we are now late because of the delay at The Better Show, so we hustle over to Suite ThreeOhSix in order to prepare for the special vegan dinner we are hosting. Suite ThreeOhSix is a cool, trendy hipster supper club that serves up some incredible vegetarian and vegan fare in the uber-trendy Tribeca. Without a moment's break we breeze through the event for which there's a great turnout. Our delicious five-course feast takes guests on an unexpected journey through the vegan delights and flavours of Caribbean cuisine. We stumble back to the hotel after midnight, totally drained.
Wednesday morning begins with a visit to Café 57 at the Hearst Tower, to prep for our big lunch on Thursday. FYI: Security at Hearst is tight like that at the US Embassy. A few hours of prepping at Café 57 and we rush back to the hotel, only to find out that the elevator is broken. A sprint up the 18 flights of stairs gets the heart racing and the legs burning, and with a quick change we zip back out in a record 20 minutes to head over to Bloomingdale's for our first open cooking demo of the week. After saying a quick hello to our patrons and getting us set up, Suzanne rushes off to Brooklyn to do an interview for Radio Cherry Bombe at Heritage Radio while Michelle stays and completes the demo at Bloomingdale's. A few hours later of cooking and answering lots of questions we meet up again at the Columbus Circle outpost of Williams-Sonoma, the premier specialty retailer of home furnishings and gourmet cookware to replay what we had done earlier at Bloomingdale's, this time with more crowds and more questions. It is fun, engaging, dynamic and we love every minute of it, especially the way the people respond to the food, the ingredients and to the Caribbean energy. We trudge home after 11:00 pm, once again exhausted, and head straight to bed so that we can be up for yet another early morning of tackling the crowds and the traffic of New York City. Talk about grunt behind glory!
Thursday morning we are pushing on. We go over to Café 57 to serve the lunch that we had started prepping the day before. The kitchen is huge and the pressure is on-Café 57 serves more than 2,000 people a day. The diners? Only the editors and employees from all Hearst publications, including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, ELLE and O, The Oprah Magazine. Oh no, no stress here! If we didn't know our way around a large kitchen we would have been, how can we say it, royally screwed. The day is rough going-we cook, serve, talk and schmooze and then serve some more. Highlight of the day: a toss-up between meeting Gayle King, editor-at-large at O magazine, host on CBS This Morning, and Oprah's bestie; and seeing transgender actress Laverne Cox (whom we had never heard of, mind you) from the hit TV Show Orange is the New Black in the ladies room taking five minutes worth of selfies in the mirror. We vote for the latter by the way, for pure entertainment value! On the heels of Café 57, we jump on the phone for a quick interview with the Boston Globe and then head over to Brooklyn Kitchen for our final cooking demo of the week. Brooklyn Kitchen is a very cool joint with fantastic artisan and gourmet foods, as well as a really incredible culinary education programme. This place is a real treat for the true food lover.
After a weekend spent enjoying the city with the kids (think: a visit to the Intrepid, a fantastic zouk concert and cruise around the New York Harbour with Kassav, plus a très chic Sunday morning brunch) we wrap it all up Monday morning with an exciting and informative interview with Audie Cornish (whose parents are Jamaican) for All Things Considered on NPR, the number one rated radio show in the US. This was by far the highlight of our week.
We can safely say that we have never experienced New York City like this before. It was crazy, scary, chaotic and loads of fun, all at the same time. But for sure, we are glad to be back in we yard!