This year’s Citi Taste of Tennis celebrated its 20th year anniversary, once again joining together tennis enthusiasts and food lovers.
With cuisine from citywide top chefs served by professional tennis players, the surprise of the night was a friendly competition between the legendary Venus and Serena Williams. We’ve seen them compete on the tennis court, but this time they competed in the kitchen with a timed cook off.
The event was headlined by Richard Blais, with entertainment by The Rakiem Walker Band and Naomi Cowen.
The chef line up included: Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto), Sujan Sarkar (Baar Baar), Edward Lee (Milkwood), Chef Bao Bao (Boaburg), Lamar Moore (The Swill Inn), Rory MacDonald (Chanson Patisserie), Kerry Heffernan (Grand Banks), Michael Han (Ortzi), Julian Medina (Toloache), Mina Newman (Sen Sakana), Cedric Tovar (Lotte NY Palace), John Stage (Dinosaur BBQ), Neil Cline (British Virgin Islands), Sani Hebaj (Dabble @ The Conrad), Mike Viola (Boars Head), and Anastacia Song (American Cut).
We had the chance to speak with Richard Blais, Dale Moss, DJ Mad Linx, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Coco Gauff.
The Knockturnal: What excites you most about this year’s Taste of Tennis?
Dale Moss: “Food and sports connects people like nothing else. It’s my background as an NFL athlete, and I’m really passionate about food, so it’s great to merge those two worlds and then just support the other athletes that are out here tonight. I just followed tennis through different relationships. With Serena, I was able to go and support her documentary that came out with HBO last year. I’m just supportive. It’s a beautiful thing and a fun sport to watch as well.”
Richard Blais: “I am looking forward to hosting a superstar celebrity tennis player competition that’s going to happen in a couple of minutes. I’m excited that I get to host that with some world class athletes who get to cook off against each other.”
DJ Mad Linx: “I believe Nick Kyrgios is going to be here tonight. The best thing in tennis right now and I don’t care who wants to parade him, who wants to down him, tell him that he needs to change, I love that man because he brings so many new eyes to the game. If it wasn’t for Johnny Mac and John McEnroe—and they weren’t always behaved so great—the era of the 90s and men’s tennis in the US would not have existed. So guys let me boy Nick live.”
Coco Gauff: “I’m looking forward to trying all the food. I like steak so probably some that’s seasoned.”
The Knockturnal: When you think of your favorite dish, what ingredients must you have?
Richard Blais: “I’m on an incredible health, wellness and fitness kick so for me, especially in the summertime, it’s been grilled meat and a combination of burnt vegetables to be honest. So over in the corner I’m cooking lamb chops cooked on a grill and I’m serving it with a dates salsa—and I love using dates or raisins for a natural sweetness. And just throwing vegetables on the grill and then putting them in a blender. You’d be amazed with what you can come up with [with those ingredients].”
Félix Auger-Aliassime: “I kind of look out for what I eat. I stay pretty healthy but I think they have some good stuff, some fine dining, and I’m getting ready to go to the station and get some cooking done so that will be [fun].”
The Knockturnal: What was your first connection to Tennis and something you look forward to every time?
DJ Mad Linx: “It was watching Wimbledon and not really knowing what it was but something just felt so special watching it. The game has changed a lot since then but so many great things about the game are still here and so it’s wonderful. It’s a great sport. I hope more and more people get the chance to get exposed to it which again is why I talk about Nick because you watch programs on ESPN and Tennis never gets mentioned. But you know what, each one of the shows, the entire day they were talking about Nick getting fined 100 plus thousand dollars. Alright, the fines are not great, but at least they were talking tennis in some kind of way. Listen, that’s what it’s all about, bringing more eyes to the game. We don’t want the people who love the sport to just be dying off and less and less people in America knowing about it. We need more. Now the ladies are doing their job. We have so many fantastic female players and they are absolutely doing their job. We need the men to step up. I hope that the next generation of kids that are hopefully watching and getting introduced to the game and see how great of a [sport] it is. So, it gets me excited.”
A portion of the proceeds raised benefit New York Junior Tennis and Learning.
For more information, click here.