Alexander Smalls – Restaurateur
Alexander Smalls has a legendary history of catering to the palates of the city’s movers and shakers. He successfully introduced New Yorkers to his brand of new American cuisine, which he named Southern Revival Cooking, through his three previously popular and highly regarded restaurants, Café Beulah, Sweet Ophelia’s, and The Shoebox Café.
Author of the acclaimed memoir and cookbook, Grace the Table: Stories and Recipes from My Southern Revival Alexander, a self-described social minister and staple on the New York City hospitality scene, has appeared on a wide range of food and culinary platforms with guest appearances on national TV magazine and news programs.
In addition to his culinary success, Alexander, a former opera singer, received a Grammy and Tony Award for his recording of Porgy & Bess with the Houston Grand Opera.
Joseph “JJ” Johnson – Chef de Cuisine
Chef JJ, a champion in the use of high quality and flavorful ingredients, firmly believes that a chef should cook with what is in season. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he was inspired to pursue his love for food while spending time cooking with his Caribbean grandmother.
Chef JJ’s talents were further honed in the kitchens of New York’s most highly esteemed restaurants such as ‘Centro Vinoteca,’ ‘Jane,’ and ‘Tribeca Grill.’ He has spent time in Ghana studying West African cuisine and showcased his skills at ‘Villa Monticello,’ Ghana’s premier luxury boutique hotel and spa. In 2013, Chef JJ helped to open the doors of Richard Parsons’ Afro-Asian-American brasserie ‘The Cecil,’ in Harlem, New York.
Chef JJ is the winner of the Rocco DiSpirito’s Dinner Party competition where he wowed the culinary elite with his eclectic twists on straightforward cooking. His specialty is taking the simplest dish and applying bold flavors and unexpected ingredients to create a complex and sophisticated taste.
Chef JJ has been recognized for his talent and unique cuisine with accolades including being named as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in the Food & Wine category (2014), Zagat’s 30 under 30 (2014), and an Eater Young Gun (2014).
Mame Sow – Pastry Chef
Pastry Chef Mame Sow draws her inspiration from seasonal ingredients, spices, colors and the juxtaposition of the sweet and the savory. Spending her first eleven years in Dakar, Senegal, she is a graduate of New York’s own Park West High School where she studied under CCAP and ultimately garnered a scholarship to the celebrated French Culinary Institute.
Mame’s talents have been cultivated at the Townhouse Restaurant Group (including Aquavit, Riingo, Merkato 55), David Burke at Bloomingdales, Hotel Rivington and ultimately at Spot Dessert bar where she served as pastry chef when it won Best Dessert Bar NYC 2010.
Chef Sow’s favorite ingredient to work with is chocolate and when she is not whipping up the most delicate, indulgent, dream-worthy desserts for the Cecil and Minton’s, she is studying cookbooks, writing her dessert blog or browsing through the aisles of Kalustyans, a spice store in Manhattan.