A Bit of where I am at
A summer in the 1980’s: I am 10 years old.
My feet are dunked in the sand, my gaze on the horizon of the placid Gulf of Saint-Tropez. All over my fingers & my face is the smell of freshly grilled sardines, which I just devoured. I am happy: with each I got closer to the sea, merging with all elements surrounding me.
Summer 2015: Upstate NY with my boys.
Theo is covered in blueberry juice & Lucas has an impressive cream-on-top-milk-mustache. As I watch my sons, I am transported back to the beach of my childhood, grasping all at once how food not only connects people to each other, but to a place, a precise geographic pocket of where it comes from, in a very visceral way.
A couple weeks ago, the wine importer Camille Rivière & myself hosted a wine dinner at ICI (now Maison May), pouring biodynamic wines from Jura, France.
At the end of the evening, several guests commented on what a delicious, unpretentious & eye-opening experience this dinner was.
I truly enjoy introducing natural wines to people who have never before tasted these kind of wines before. It’s like watching someone eating farm fresh chicken for the 1st time: Once you taste the difference, you never go back.
On a gorgeous spring evening last week, a dozen people gathered on the patio at ICI (now Maison May)
for the May edition of our community dinner series.
Each month a handful of neighbors, customers
& friends of friends join us for this special dinner.
There is no agenda and the theme is very subtle each time.
But the purpose is strong: by gathering around a table
& sharing food, I aim to feed everyone’s soul & build a community.
Recently, I found myself standing by the kitchen pass after an epic dinner at ICI (now Maison May), feeling like the stars had aligned.
I was overwhelmed by a delicious feeling of raw empowerment & accomplishment. Looking at my two co-chefs, Armando & Robert, I felt like a football coach on the night of the Super Bowl, after the quarterback scored the winning touchdown to lead the team to victory.
The food had exceeded my high expectations,
I felt like my vision had been met, yet I had not set foot in the kitchen or cooked a thing.
How does that happen?
ICI (now called Maison May Dekalb ) has grown into much more than a delicious farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of Fort Greene and has, in recent years, become the top destination for thoughtful, intimate boutique weddings in New York City. I’m still in awe over this success, and wanted to share some of the philosophy behind it all.
I sat down with Lauren Berg, to pick her brain. She is our beloved event coordinator, and a large part of her duties includes ensuring that every wedding held at ICI (now called Maison May Dekalb )will exceed expectations.
Here, she gives us a few pointers on how she makes it all work so well.
I was recently featured on Brooklyn Based and I shared a bit more about my process for cooking for my family. Continue on to read their article:
Eating local food in Brooklyn certainly constitutes something quite different than what I was doing growing up in Provence, where all senses were easily activated in a rush of colors, smells, tastes.
However, in navigating the NYC landscape for the past 2 decades and learning how to source local food here, I managed to find a similar kaleidoscope of senses, and, more importantly, realize the impact on our community.
And along the way I developed a strategy to feed my family in a conscious yet efficient way & cook, connect, build & restore.
I had a good laugh the other day when a friend told me that some people have this super glamorous vision of my family life when it comes down to food. They envision me eating at ICI (now called Maison May Dekalb ) almost every night, with my perfectly mannered...