See You at the Howard Theater in DC

Every single city I've visited for the "Yes, Chef" book tour has taught me something new about the community there. Whether it's a book signing, demo, radio spot or TV interview, I've gotten the chance to meet so many new faces and reconnect with old friends. What has most impressed me is how each chef has interpreted the memoir in their own way, translating their thoughts into some pretty stellar menus.

I'm excited to head to DC this weekend and do a demo at the beautifully restored Howard Theater. To top it off, there will be a performance by the superb talent and jazz phenom Christian Scott, who, if you haven't seen him perform yet, it's your chance to see this great on the rise. Tickets are still available to the Howard Theater cooking demo on Friday, July 27th.

The $50 advance purchase ticket includes food demo and tasting, 1 glass of wine and an autographed copy of “Yes, Chef”.

General Admission Seating

•  All Ages

• First Come, First Seated

• Full Dinner Menu Available

Click here to purchase tickets

What to Watch: An Ethiopian Love

After my demo and dinner in Seattle with Tom Douglas, I was stopped by these two guys waiting for me in the lobby of the Palace Ballroom. I don't know how long they had been waiting or how they found out I'd be there, but these two young kids were standing there with a laptop and a couple of T-shirts with the words I AM ETHIOPIA written on them. Of course I stopped to see what they wanted.

"An Ethiopian Love" is a new movie written, directed and produced by Yonie Soloman and I got the chance to check out the trailer. According to Yonie, he wanted to make the movie (filmed in LA, Seattle and Ethiopia) to forever change the world's negative perception of Africa by allowing audiences to see a side of Ethiopia never depicted by mainstream media. It's billed as a romantic comedy made up of a mostly Ethiopian-American cast, but Yonie hopes it reaches a wide range of people outside of our Ethiopian tribe.

In addition to the movie, Yonie created the I AM ETHIOPIA apparel line to promote one of the themes of the movie. I AM ETHIOPIA is a powerful declaration that positively represents the birthplace of civilization as well as celebrates the only African country in history to remain independent avoiding colonization by defeating a European power.

I'll be in Washington, D.C. on Friday night doing demos and dinners at the Smithsonian and the Howard Theater and I'm excited to meet those who are a part of the large and vibrant Ethiopian community there. Do me a favor--check out the trailer for "An Ethiopian Love" down below and give some love to these guys. I applaud them for the hard work and dedication they have to getting the movie and message out, and I wish them all the best of luck.

AN ETHIOPIAN LOVE - OFFICIAL MOVIE TRAILER from IAMETHIOPIA.COM on Vimeo.

History, Honor at the Howard Theater

It's been 30 years since the Howard Theater in D.C. closed in 1980, but I was lucky enough to be there when the doors re-opened to spectacular fanfare last Thursday. It's a theater regarded as the blueprint for the Apollo here in Harlem, and no less applauded for the careers they helped launch. Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, the Supremes, Duke Ellington, and Aretha Franklin; these are just some of the famous faces that graced the Howard Theater stage early in their rise to fame.

The Howard Theater reminds me so much of the Apollo for its sense of history and huge impact on the community around it. Everyone connects to the importance of the theater that first opened in 1910, and I can't emphasize what a privilege it is for the Marcus Samuelsson Group to be involved. We were asked to create dishes for the Southern-style dinners, gospel brunch and standing-room menu at the Howard and we got to experience the reception at Thursday night's all-star gala.

Listen to this line up: Bill Cosby opened the night and we were treated to performances by Chrisette Michele, Al Jarreau and Savion Glover, to name a few. Smokey Robinson honored his best friend, Motown founder Berry Gordy, and the stories they shared about their decades long friendship were priceless. And then there was the star of the show: the Howard Theater itself. If you saw photos of this historic building before the restoration, you wouldn't believe what they were able to do with it. Staying true to the history of the place, they kept the original exterior facade, the stage, some columns holding up the balcony and the size. It's a stunning interior that's rich in warm comforts with some serious state-of-the-art technology, thanks to the Blue Note Entertainment Group.

For the menu I thought of the past and future; I wanted to have items that were inspired by African-American history so you'll taste my interpretations of blackened catfish, BBQ duck breast salad, shrimp and grits, and the standing room menu even has modern hot dogs (the Marylander has crab salad on top). As for the gospel brunch? You're going to have to come by and try the fried chicken, buttermilk mashed potatoes and banana bread pudding while listening to the Harlem Gospel Choir.

There's seating for 650 in the supper-club style dining area with room for 1,100 in the standing room space. Unlike anything else in the area, the Howard Theater is all about bringing people to one venue where you can get it all-food, entertainment and connecting with your neighbors (something we aim to do at Ginny's Supper Club). To be able to be a part of a world-class building hosting world-class entertainment night after night, I'm incredibly humbled by it all.

For more photos of the food and restoration project, click through the gallery below. For more information on the Howard Theater, go to www.howardtheater.org

Howard Theater Exterior Photo Credit: Tim Cooper

Food Photo Credit: www.sixtomatoes.com

For more photos of my events, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)