By Lil Nickelson
I got invited to cover Executive Chef Ed Brumfield’s Mixtape Dinner at Ginny’s Supper Club that was held on Sunday, October 7th, 2018 evening in the lower level of Red Rooster Harlem located at 310 Lenox Avenue in the village of Harlem from 6 pm until 9 pm. My guest Pat Stevenson, the publisher of the Harlem News Group, Inc. and I arrived early which was a good thing because within an hour it was so well attended they had to turn away the folks that come fashionably late.
Chef Ed conceived the hip-hop music-inspired dishes and signature drinks served based on the lyrics and his interpretation of some popular mixed tape music from the 1990s. We’re talking about songs like The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa,” Snoop Dogg’s “Gin & Juice,” Naughty By Nature’s “O.P.P.,” and Nas’ “The World is Yours,” to name a few. Every dish and signature drink were inspired by hip-hop music. The wait staff was dressed in 90s hip-hop attire and boom boxes decorated the center dividers between the banquet seats; good repurposing of decorations from the now-closed Streetbird Rotisserie restaurant.
Live music this evening featured by DJ Masai, who has been spinning for over 23 years and has played in some of the biggest venues in the city and Tri-State area. He was accompanied by PhearNone (also known as Shayshahn MacPherson), a phenomenal hip-hop/rap violinist that has created remixes of Rihanna’s “Work” featuring Drake and he was featured on Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble;” he’s got skills. A surprise guest musician was Sweet Lee Odom, a soprano saxophone and clarinet; a jazz and classical musician and she’s got skills too. So musically the event was covered.
The menu was extensive with choices of three appetizers, eight entrees, two snacks, five desserts, and six signature drink choices; I found it so hard to choose. Pat and I chose different items and she let me get a taste of her appetizers, but by the time the entrees arrived, it was every woman for herself.
For signature drinks, Pat drank “Rough, Rugged, Raw” inspired by EPMS’ 1992 song “Crossover;” gin, plum, cranberry, demerara, and prosecco. I chose “Scooped in the Ice Cream Truck” inspired by Wu Tang’s 1995 song “Ice Cream;” vodka, vanilla ice cream, and caramel on the rim and outside of the glass. It was the first time I ever licked my glass.
For appetizers, Pat chose “Sheep, Lents, Cuc’z, Beets and Gems” inspired by the Lost Boyz 1995 song “Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz;” baby romaine salad with golden beets, pickled cucumber, smoked ricotta, spiced lentil chip, and blood orange vinaigrette. I chose “When We Cook with Amaretto” inspired by Camp Lo’s 1997 song, “Luchini This is It;” roasted scallops with bacon onion jam, chives, and amaretto beurre blanc.
For entrees, Pat chose “Other People’s Pasta” inspired by Naughty By Nature’s 1991 song “O.P.P.;” lamb ravioli with pomodoro sauce (like a thick marinara sauce), grated pecorino cheese and farm shelf herbs (are herbs grown hydroponically in chefs’ own kitchens). I chose “All Eyez on Sea” inspired by 2Pac’s 1996 song “All Eyez on Me;” jerk branzino fish fillets with mussels on top of parsnip puree, grilled leeks, and pickled pineapple.
For dessert, Pat chose “Queen B” inspired by Lil’ Kim’s 1996 song “Big Momma Thang;” honey cheesecake, hot honeycomb, honey whiskey charcoal caramel and olive oil. Pat was thinking a slice of cake, but that’s too plain in the fine dining world. I chose “Horse & Carriage” inspired by Cam’ron’s 1998 song by that same name; cream cheese souffle with guava jam.
When I was circling around the room in between courses I ran into rapper, songwriter, and actor Darren Isaiah chatting with Chef Ed and LoLo’s Seafood Shack co-owners and husband and wife Chef Raymond Mohan and Skai Young-Mohan enjoying the evening. The crowd was an eclectic mix of young and seasoned, black, brown, yellow and white patrons yearning for dine dining eats inspired by hip-hop music. Some were singing along with the music, while others were swaying and bobbing in their seats and a few got up and did the moves they used to groove with back in the day.
Now I originally met Executive Chef Ed back in May of this year when Chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Daniel Boulud were distributing meals to senior citizens living in Central Harlem for the Food Bank of New York City. He was so busy that night that I called the restaurant the next afternoon in between lunch and dinner preparation to ask him some follow up questions. He told me the night of the event that he attended New York Restaurant School.
So, the next day I asked him what type of cuisine he was cooking in the 1990s when the music he selected to inspire his dishes were the latest music out. He honestly replied, “I was working in food cafeterias back then, so my dishes were not that deep back then. It’s when I went to work at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in the London NYC Hotel that I realized I had culinary skills and I decided to pursue cooking at a higher level and enrolled in culinary school.” It was a wise choice, Ed.
When asked when he would host the next mixtape dinner he was replied, ”Quite a number of people made the same comment to me last night. The next one will probably be at Marcus BP in Newark, NJ.” I told him I truly hope he schedules more hear in Harlem as well because I want the opportunity to taste the other dishes on his menu. My fine dining palate was pleased as I headed home.
Check out more article by Lil Nickelson’s Dining With Miss Lil here.