"If I had a dollar for every time someone said 'What's a riceball?' I wouldn't even need to make 'em," said JohnPaul Perrone on an episode of the Cooking Channel's Eat Street. Since then, JohnPaul has moved from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar restaurant where he continues to create riceballs (known as arancini in Italian) using his grandmother's recipe. At Papa Perrone's Riceball Shoppe, each crisp and golden deep-fried ball protects a tender core of meat and cheese, veggies and cheese, or Nutella-flavored magma. The shop's menu also features other Perrone family recipes as well as Italian specialties, such as artichoke pie, baked or fried calzones, and meatballs.
Though chef Nadege Fleurimond was once forced to stretch her culinary creativity as a contestant on Food Network's Chopped, she experiments in the kitchen every day. Her menus blend a unique array of American, French, Italian, Latin, and Caribbean recipes into dishes for all on- and off-camera occasions. Her culinary teams follow her instructions to build international entrees and desserts, passed appetizers, and cocktails during festive buffets and lavish sit-down dinners.
When Chef Nadege and her staff aren’t traveling to events all over the East Coast, they host local group cooking lessons. These informal classes have taught guests to decorate cakes, simmer Thai curries, and cook traditional Caribbean dishes. They also host regular events, such as themed dinner parties and knitting circles using handmade pasta.
Inside the kitchen of TriniSoul, students get the opportunity to face down the scotch bonnet—a lantern-shaped pepper that smolders with 50 times more heat than a jalapeño. The heavy-duty pepper is just one of the extraordinary ingredients introduced to students by Chef D, a Caribbean native who holds court during cooking classes that center around the recipes she grew up enjoying. Her foray into culinary instruction started as a few simple classes on the cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago, but her teaching style developed a rabid following, and Chef D's curriculum has grown to cover many types of Caribbean cuisine as well as American-style soul fare. More than 6,000 students have enrolled in Chef D's classes, which can accommodate groups of up to 24 in TriniSoul's kitchen as well as private instruction in one's own kitchen or properly equipped subway car.
Under the twinkle of a dramatic chandelier, alcohol alchemists blend top-shelf liquors into cocktails that chase bites of authentic Caribbean cuisine. Groups flirt unabashedly with their own reflections in the mirror-like sheen of the solid-oak bar while bartenders pour potables such as the whiskey-drenched three wise men, a generous blend of Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, and Old Grand-Dad. A shaken french martini with vodka, Chambord, and pineapple juice sways within its elegant stemware, whereas the mint from a classic mojito leaves mouths with a cool sensation reminiscent of reciting beat poetry. Sink into oven-roasted chicken wings dressed in spicy-jerk outerwear as they flip and dive through cool ponds of coconut-and-herb-cream sauce. The chef may also grace tables with a generous portion of jerked or fried jumbo marinated shrimp alongside bell peppers and onion with fried plantain fritters. Al fresco sippers gaze at the stars or draw new constellations that resemble beloved pet scorpions from the brick-enclosed patio dotted with contemporary metallic dining tables. Call ahead to reserve a table.
Rawia Bishara didn't learn her way around the kitchen at culinary school. Instead, she helped her mother cook old world Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, hosted a plethora of dinner parties, and spent the past fourteen years running her own restaurant, Tanoreen. There, she and her staff fuse her mother’s traditional recipes with her own modern touches, creating a medley of past and present more satisfying than a founding-fathers rap battle. The resulting spreads range from classics, such as hummus and falafel, to more unusual flavors such as okra stewed with tomato and lamb, fried striped bass with tahini dipping sauce, and the many creative lamb dishes that prompted New York Magazine to proclaim, "Visiting Tanoreen without ordering lamb in some form seems as perverse as skipping the porterhouse at Peter Luger." As diners savor their meals, they can sip Arabic coffee with tequila and hazelnut, pistachio martinis, and other concoctions from the full bar.
Almost a century ago, Lou G. Siegel founded his eponymous company and then migrated to the Garment District to feed its denizens with delicious kosher fare. The tradition of stacked deli sandwiches, matzo-ball soup, and gourmet entrees continues today through Lou G Siegel's catering commissary, which supplies events big and small with gourmet kosher meals, buffets, and à la carte items. Lou's Big Apple clients have included the New York Hilton, the New York Stock Exchange, and King Kong's going-away party, but its meals can also be shipped anywhere in the United States for travelers or to the doorsteps of hosts in need of traditional Shabbos or holiday dishes.