It's far from common to find a joint dinner between two chefs bringing ticket-scalpers out of the weeds, but that's the power Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised, New York phenomenon Marcus Samuelsson has to transfix the public. Post & Beam was packed to its exposed rafters last night as the Red Rooster chef teamed up with L.A.'s own Govind Armstrong to bring a "Taste of Harlem" to the one-year-old Baldwin Hills restaurant. While the two celebrated chefs' unique restaurants have been compared in local media for both introducing Southern-skewing, chef-driven experiences to previously overlooked neighborhoods, Red Rooster and Post & Beam share a much deeper bond. "Brad [Johnson, owner of Post & Beam] came to the restaurant in the beginning," Samuelsson told Grub Street, "and I've known Govind for a very long time; always admired what he is doing."
Armstrong returned the enthusiasm in saying, "I've known Marcus for quite some time. This is something we've been wanting to do forever. All of my cooks really enjoyed themselves cooking something a little different than what they are used too."
In fact, the connection is so simpatico that Samuelsson says, "The relationship between Post and Beam and Red Rooster is something that will always continue. Hopefully you guys come with us when we do this in Harlem and do a Post and Beam night at Red Rooster."
Collaborating on fifteen dishes with help from high school students in the youth-outreach C-Cap culinary program, the two chefs skewed south on Red Rooster dishes like fried yardbird, crawfish beignets, and deviled eggs with smoked catfish, also matching heads on recipes graced with Caribbean and African influences, including a tribute to L.A.'s taco fixation using Ethiopian injera bread.
The dinner culminated with Post & Beam putting out a narrow wooden dancing board in the sparse amount of space left unclaimed in the restaurant. A young girl from Debbie Allen's neighboring Dance Academy proceeded to turbo-tap-dance for five minutes straight.
Samuelsson concluded the evening by toasting the crowd and thanking the L.A. food crowd for coming. The chef announced, "We're here for many different reasons. But you think about doing this thing during Black History Month and honoring the chefs and the restaurateurs like Silvia Woods and Lea Chase who were here before us and made it possible for Brad and Govind and myself to be part of the discussion of great restaurants."
The chef continued, "And at the same time, we're here to also to honor C-Cap, which is really dear in the community. To have inner-city kids to learn life skills from food. We have so many of those students helping out today. Everybody did a good deed here today by just showing up and eating."
Check out our slideshow of Marcus Sameulsson and Govind Armstrong bringing Post & Beam a taste of Harlem in Baldwin Hills.