We visited Chef’s Club for an exclusive and mesmerizing one-night celebration dinner “Savage | Beauty”, with Olivia Palermo, Sabrina Huls and more. Read about it!
There’s a lot to escape from these days. Be it the political scene, the wild weather, a dizzying fashion schedule… getting away is on a lot of minds. For Saturday, the getaway was in the city, in a warm corner of Mulberry Street, at the Chef’s Club, the high-concept, open-air eatery conceived by Stephane De Baets. De Baets, hospitality expert and general genius worked with Food & Wine to bring Chef’s Club to life, merging occasional theatrics, a fully open plan kitchen, and exquisite wine pairings in a Rockwell-designed space.
It takes a certain mind to understand Chef’s Club, and another to think of it in the first place. Sure enough, “Savage | Beauty” was home for a night, a respite from the street noise in exchange for something far more interesting. It felt private and exclusive as one entered to find scantly-clad women wearing dark lipstick, and dressed in jumpsuits, tutus, or leotards (designed by Monzlapur), writhing with ropes, in glass boxes, or on each other.
Pass that, and you’re greeted with three more women perched on the bar, offering champagne or cheese. To call this a piece of feminist art isn’t a stretch, the degree of intimidation by the performers was palpable and interesting. I was almost terrified to grab a glass of champagne from one of them, as if it were forbidden to do so, as if she was tempting me, offering a forbidden fruit. A game of improvisation, a suspension of reality allowed the staring, crawling, twirling, whispering, and dancing, to become curious and fascinating acts of defiance and power.
The performance work is the responsibility of Kate March, the provocative and experimental choreographer and artist based in Hong Kong.
The Chef’s Club fit nicely into March’s “I Am” work, which featured the aforementioned, well, scenic dancers, moving along to sounds by DJ Aimz, often in large choreographed sets. But the performance was more intimate at times… An occasional tap on the shoulder would lead to dancer bringing you into a back room. Here, a single oyster is served with a glass of absinthe as an actress makes love to a rose suspended from the ceiling…
And to be asked by Sabrina Huls whether I’d “been tied up yet” was the icing on the cake, and the dinner hadn’t even started yet. But this is Chef’s Club, so food matters. With celebrated chef Jean Georges among the guests of this party, the stakes were high for Didier Elena, who, frankly, is a stunning talent in his own right. He’s a Michelin-starred chef and Culinary Director for Chef’s Club, who’s worked with Alain Ducasse (Adour-Essex House, Ducasse) and more. With the assistance of George Mendes of Aldea (also a Michelin-rated fellow), have no doubt: guests were in good hands.
Serving everything from a “white medley” (literally everything in this dish was white, leaving guests guessing which ingredients were which- I know apple was in there, somewhere). Regardless, it was the perfect medley indeed, not a note sour.
This was followed by second course then a main course of perfected tender chicken, unlike any I’d had before. Chicken is not easy to get right. Many chefs regard chicken as hopelessly average any way you slice it. Great chicken can simply never reach the dizzying pleasure of a perfectly achieved steak or lamb. I was sure of it too, even swearing off chicken for over a year. Elena has proven everyone wrong. You might think you’ve had good chicken. You might even think you can make good chicken. But Elena’s approach is unmatched. This chicken melts in your mouth. This chicken is beyond juicy. Served at the right temperature, it’s satisfying warmth accompanied a flavorful taste.
Rounded out with a dessert of raspberry or cherry, I ate it twice, feeling a little too comfortable on what seemed like gallons of Ace of Spades champagne. Talk of an afterparty was going around, and guests were growing livelier than ever.
Speaking of guests, some staples of this scene made it out such as actor and fashion phenom Waris Ahluwahlia, Olivia Palermo, model Lexi Wood, who looked effortlessly chic in a silvery slip, artist Domingo Zapata, who was all smiles with his great energy, Carina Ertl of Elle Germany, and even architect Anne-Sophie Rosseel. It was a global crowd, clearly the guest list magic of Sabrina and her husband Stephane, who truly know how to host the ultimate getaway, right in the city.