I have been watching the families of Richard Nelson’s Rhinebeck for the past few years at The Public Theater. I saw two-thirds of the Gabriels series; What Did You Expect? and Women of a Certain Age, and I was introduced to The Michaels last year. They carry a number of similarities, these four. They register as natural and organic, stewed together in a kitchen surrounded by almost two many tables and chairs for a Manhattanite to understand. I watched them discuss politics and art, and although I never did bear witness to The Apple Family trilogy and I don’t know any of the particulars, I can make a number of predictions how they speak to one another and how the framework of interpersonal dynamics might play out. The plays also carry with them an immediacy that feels ultimately relevant, but progressively authentic in their solid but breakable bones. So it was with some comfort that I joined them the other night for a Zoom chat, and even though the play’s structure was like no other that I have had as of late, I still felt the simplicity of watching them, positioned like a fly on their kitchen wall, taking in their familial chatter as easy as breathing in the aroma of a stew that I liked, but never really craved with all my heart.
It’s quite the strong set-up, even though I didn’t know the characters’ backstory nor their relationships. The Apple Family, the one I didn’t see or know much about, have reunited under the self-isolating conditions we are all experiencing. They aren’t all gathered in a homey kitchen chatting with one another while someone made dinner. They are gathered, just like most of us, around a computer screen or a laptop, Zoom chatting in little rectangles from the privacy of their own room. Streaming out to us all last Wednesday, Nelson’s new one-hour play, What Do We Need to Talk About?, available on The Public Theater’s YouTube channel until May 3rd, is as clear a vision as possible, grasping precisely what we are all struggling to cope with and understand about ourselves during these tumultuous times. We gather and talk, sometimes with complete engagement, or sometimes, like these characters, we disconnect and wander away, sometimes to get food or drink as if they are all gathered for a dinner, or sometimes just mentally, spacing out and not being fully present to what is happening. (top left, clockwise) Jay O. Sanders, Maryann Plunkett, Sally Murphy, Laila Robins, Stephen Kunken. Photo courtesy of The Public Theater.
The cast of Nelson’s play as directed by Nelson, is all of the acting clan you would suspect to see within one of his plays at The Public. Jay O. Sanders (Sir David Hare’s Stuff Happens), the most well known to me, is there in all his effortless glory as Richard, a lawyer for the state of New York, who has moved back in with his high school history teacher sister Barbara, played organically by the marvelous Maryann Plunkett (1987 Broadway’s Sunday in the Park…). [side note: these two fine actors are married in real life, so isolating together in real life as well as in this play makes complete sense.] It turns out she has just been released from the hospital after surviving a frighteningly severe case of COVID-19. It’s a fear and a structure of relief that we can all easily relate to, directly or indirectly, but it adds a layer of immediate authenticity to the proceedings, and a tension within that we are all grappling with in some way shape or form. Another sister, the elementary-school teacher Marian, smartly portrayed by Laila Robins (RTC’s Heartbreak House) sits strong and clear, even though she is still grieving the death of her daughter. Writer and sister Jane, dynamically played by Sally Murphy (LCT’s Admissions) chimes in from one room, while her live-in boyfriend, Tim, well played by Stephen Kunken (Broadway’s Enron), who is an actor and a restaurant manager for a restaurant that has just COVID closed down, zooms in from another room. He has tested positive for the virus and has quarantined himself in the other room, although he is symptom-free. It’s a tense arrangement that they try to pass off as completely fine, but the edge is sharp, and the banter tinged with bored frustration.
In many ways, there’s nothing remarkably dramatic about the Apples and the way they talk to one another. It’s almost boring to sit through, but we know from Nelson’s way of capturing the mildness of these kind-hearted people, that the tasty nuggets will be there, hidden inside the crust, just waiting to jump out and surprise. They bicker in ways that only a somewhat secure family can, stating obvious yet complicated dynamics with ease, and moving past conflicts naturally and without too much notice. “You always said you were worried about being smothered by your sisters,” one sister says quite matter-of-factly, to which Richard feels he must defend against with a denial, “I never said that.” But that won’t sit with his sisters who insist, almost casually, “You definitely did” with Barbara digging it in deeper by stating, quite quietly in the background, “In this very house.”(top left, clockwise) Jay O. Sanders, Maryann Plunkett, Sally Murphy, Laila Robins, Stephen Kunken. Photo courtesy of The Public Theater.
Most times, like us and our Zoom gatherings, the characters from Nelson’s AppleFamily, talk about the simple and the banal; the food they are making and eating, grocery shopping obstacles, senior hours for shopping, and how they all are trying to stay safe against the obstacles set out before them. But in this particular family Zoom gathering, the liberal-leaning dynamics of three sisters and one brother, with a boyfriend thrown in for good measure, are introduced, most elegantly, to a compelling idea that transforms the chatter. Barbara shares an idea and a slice of history that is, in its core, most compelling. She recalls that in the 14th-century during the Black Death pandemic the classic “The Decameron” was composed to distract one another while in quarantine. “The book is structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city” (Wikipedia). From that historic connection to a tragic past, the Apples curate and share stories like a good meal baked in history and intellectualsim, in a talky minimalistic manner that registers with anyone who has seen one of the many Nelson plays. It’s charming, thoughtful, emotionally relevant, and comforting, particularly at a time when we are in need of just that kind of a good warm meal.
This is a new type of theatre, even if What Do We Need to Talk About? feels as comfortable as a warm kitchen. They talk and discuss all the issues that rattle around our own hearts and souls, like the death of Broadway actor Mark Blum and the disconcerting future of theater. The piece feels transformational and traditional all at once. Invite yourself over to the Apples, and pull up a virtual chair for a separate but compellingly attached meal and a glass of wine. It won’t blow your mind, and you might even get a bit bored at times like I did, but who doesn’t when we have these kinds of conversations via group Zoom chats, with family and loved ones. It’s hard not to see the realness in every frame, so while The Publicand all the other theaters remain closed, let’s embrace what we are served, especially when it is a well-crafted bowl of comfort and connection. Dig in and digest. You’ll feel warm and well feed when done, and these inspiring attempts to engage and challenge us theatrically will tide us over until the time when the real life theatrical doors open up wide once again.
For more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com
Serving Up Smiles for enCourage Kids Foundation Returns to Raise Funds in New York City
On October 16, the enCourage Kids Foundation will host Serving Up Smiles, a premier tasting extravaganza that will include decadent food from world-renowned chefs and top named restaurants in NYC, VIP Lounge, world-class wines, spirits, and incredible auction items at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. Red Carpet & Door 6:30pm-9:30pm.
ABC Sports Anchor Ryan Field will emcee the evening alongside Chef Ralph Scamardella (Chef & Partner TAO Group Hospitality) who is the Culinary Chair for this event. DJ CHEF will keep guests dancing as they enjoy the fine cuisine at the beautiful waterfront venue.
Invited guests include Charles Oakley (NBA All-Star/Coach/Chef), Malik Yoba (Actor – Empire & NY Undercover), Erik Coleman (Former NFL Safety & MSG Commentator of Odds with Ends), Howard Cross (NY Giants Super Bowl Champion & YES Network Commentator), Tony Richardson (NFL Legend & Sports Commentator), Matt Brust (Former NBA Forward & ), to name a few.
Participating Restaurants include Beauty & Essex, Be B.I.O. Café, Bryant Park Grill, Cardinali Bakery, Dolce Bella, F. Ottomanelli By The Water, Hunt & Fish Club, LAVO New York, Ocean Prime, Robert, Sfoglia, TAO Downtown, The Curry Blossom.
Participating Beverages include Dr. Perricone Hydrogen Water, Fever-Tree, FIJI Water, Gelston’s Irish Whiskey, Jade Sparkling Wine, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery and Landmark Vineyards, Newburgh Brewing Company, Owl’s Brew, Whitley Neill Gin, and Zyr Vodka.
Gold Sponsors include Ark Restaurants Corp, Cougar Capital & The Donut Pub, Feil Family Foundation, Flagstar Bank, and GFP Real Estate. Silver Sponsors include Lucy and David Ball and Segal Mc Cambridge.
Photo Booth Sponsors Emerson Entertainment and Goldberg Weprin and Giveaway Item Sponsor Buchbinder & Warren.
Restaurant Workers Discount with Industry Table & New York City Wine & Food Festival
The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One returns to celebrate 16 years this October 12-15 with more than 80+ events featuring over 500+ chefs from around the world who come together with God’s Love We Deliver to support New Yorkers affected by severe illness. The Festival is proud to announce that for the first time, it will be offering discounted tickets to restaurant workers through a new partnership with The Industry Table.
This new initiative invites restaurant workers to dine at select events from the Festival’s Intimate Dinner and Lunch Series at 50% off the ticket price. These intimate dining experiences will feature one-time-only menu collaborations between world-renowned chefs like Daniel Boulud, Alain Allegretti, Phet Schwader, Scott Conant, Tiffany Faison, Vijay Kumar and more. The menus will be perfectly paired with wine and spirits from the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits portfolio. A full list of available dinners can be viewed here.
“The New York City Wine & Food Festival is a celebration of the entire hospitality industry, and it’s important to us to make it as inclusive as possible,” said Festival Founder and Director Lee Brian Schrager. “We’re honored to partner with Chef John Fraser and The Industry Table to offer these coveted seats exclusively to restaurant workers and help celebrate the very people who are the backbone of our industry.”
Launched in March 2023 by Chef John Fraser, The Industry Table offers a table every night of service for hospitality workers to dine at cost across his portfolio nationwide, including IRIS, La Marchande, North Fork Table & Inn, The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens at The Times Square EDITION, Ardor at The West Hollywood EDITION and Lilac at the Tampa EDITION. To date, there have been nearly 500 seatings.
“We launched The Industry Table to foster community amongst hospitality workers by gathering around the table and making dining out accessible,” said Chef John Fraser. “We’re thrilled to team up with the New York City Wine & Food Festival to further expand the mission and spur camaraderie.”
Booking is available in sets of two tickets, and at least one guest must be currently employed in the restaurant industry. Reservations can be made by filling out The Industry Table form on https://www.jfrestaurants.com/
100% of the Festival’s net proceeds support their mission to EAT. DRINK. FEED NYC. through God’s Love We Deliver, the New York City metropolitan area’s only provider of medically tailored meals and nutrition counseling for individuals living with severe illness. To purchase tickets, visit www.nycwff.org.
Stay up to date by following the conversation all year long on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using @NYCWFF/#NYCWFF and on TikTok at @NYCWineFoodFestival.
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
On Friday, October 27 the opening day of Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park will be kicking off the 22nd season of NYC’s favorite holiday destination. This event features an expansive free-admission skating rink, unmatched holiday market, and a festive bar and food hall. Partnering with Bank of America for the 11th year, Bryant Park is thrilled to be welcoming back one of NYC’s most popular winter attractions.
- The Rink is the largest free-admission ice skating rink in New York City. Skate time and rentals through November 29 can be reserved in advance online. New skate reservation dates will be released throughout the season.
- The Lodge is a rinkside, après skate-escape where visitors can cozy up with a festive cocktail, enjoy delicious food from local restaurants, and watch the ice skaters or admire the tree.
- This season’s Holiday Shops by Urbanspace Markets will feature over 180+ new and returning merchants in an open-air holiday market, including the Small Business Spotlight presented by Bank of America, where four New York City minority-owned small businesses, with annual revenues of $1 million or less, will showcase and sell their products in a rent-free shop for approximately two weeks each. Featured businesses will be announced in the coming days.
Visitors are invited to Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park to enjoy the holidays and the broader winter season. The Rink and The Lodge will be open daily beginning October 27, 2023 through March 3, 2024. The Holiday Shops by Urbanspace Markets will be open daily from October 27, 2023, through January 2, 2024. Visit wintervillage.org for hours and details.
The entrance is between 40th Street and 42nd Street on 6th Avenue
Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Elevates Javits Center with Street Art for Mankind
This was a project with passion that we can get behind!
Bulleit Frontier Whiskey and Street Art for Mankind worked with artist, Carlos Alberto, to create the mural this fall that aims to inspire the community to become agents of environmental change. A hub for artists, New York is the ideal location for a mural of this size and importance. The mural was unveiled during Climate Week NYC.
“The growth of our partnership with American Forests over the past three years is a testament to our commitment to creating real change,” said Jesse Damashek, Senior Vice President of Whiskies & Liqueurs at Diageo. “The Tree Equity plantings we do are extremely impactful and important to the local communities we serve, and with Street Art for Mankind, we’re able to bring critical attention to these efforts, and the broader need for global Ecosystem Restoration. The Ecosystem Restoration murals that Street Art creates do a masterful job of promoting this important work, as well as inspiring people to be drivers of environmental change.”
In support of the United Nations Environment Programme, a part of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, Street Art for Mankind created the Ecosystem Restoration Murals Project. Through this project, Bulleit is supporting the creation of five ecosystem restoration murals across the US. To create the mural in New York City, Street Art for Mankind partnered with Carlos Alberto. A street artist from Mexico, Carlos loves nature and using 3D effects to bring his art to life.
On the side of the city’s largest convention center, the Javits Center, Carlos created the mural in only 10 days. Carlos explained that his design features a woman hugging a tree to signify that she wants there to be more of them in her neighborhood. The woman is surrounded by the jungle, reminding viewers that, even in the “concrete jungle,” communities need trees and nature.
The mural also makes a reference to biodiversity with plants and animals from New York state, and from around the world. On the left you will find extinct and endangered plants and animals, and on the right you can see recovering species, reflecting the challenge and the hope that comes from global ecosystem restoration efforts. Kicking-off Climate Week NYC, this mural will serve as a vivid reminder of the critical need for global ecosystem restoration.
The public can scan the mural for an audio guide using a free mobile app called “Behind the Wall®”, published by SAM on Playstore and the Appstore. The app allows people to discover the story behind Ecosystem Restoration, hear officials talk about the issue, and listen to Carlos talk about his creation.
Inside the Dazzling Amex Gold & Resy Present: Dip into Gold Dip with Nicole Byer
This event took home the gold medal and more!
Brilliantly re-imagined signature dishes, featuring inventive sauces for guests to drench, drizzle, slather and dunk were grandly showcased during the thrilling night hosted by comedian Nicole Byer.
New York City’s favorite Resy restaurants including Laser Wolf, Foul Witch, Sylvia’s, Seoul Salon, Jacob’s Pickles, and Potluck Club were all on site serving up yummy dishes as special pop-up experiences from Amex Gold Card Dining Credit partners took place by Grubhub, Goldbelly, Wine.com, The Cheesecake Factory, and more.
For the entire affair attendees felt the joy with incredible food, music and epic fun. Chef Romeo Regalli, Executive Chef of Ras Plant, who was serving up his special event dish Injera Nachos, spoke on the importance of the momentous occasion.
“The companies putting this event together gives me a lot of hope businesses in the area. I think what American Express is doing great, especially for me as a small business,” said the chef as guests enjoyed his dish from his exquisite organic vegan Ethiopian eatery.”
Other amazing chefs featured during the party were Chef Mike Mayo of Laser Wolf with French Fries dunked in Tehina Ketchup; Chef Carlo Mirarchi with Foul Witch and Stone Fruit drenched in Leche de Tigre; Chef Marcus Woods of Sylvia’s with Sylvia’s World-Famous BBQ Rib Bites slathered in Sylvia’s Original Sassy Sauce; Chef Eli Sussman of gertrudes with Mini Challah Bite slathered with a Smoke Bluefish Pate, Herbs and Pickled Red Onion; Chef Dave Rizo of Yellow Rose with Corn Fritters with Cream; Chef Carlha Azcona of Shuka with Moroccan Spiced Eggplant; Chef Marc Ellert-Beck of Stretch Pizza with Old Town Square with Mushroom and Pumpernickel; Chef Preston Clark of Lure Fishbar with Lobster and Shrimp Dumpling; and Chef Zhan Chen of Potluck Club with Fried Mantou with Black Sesame Dulce de Leche.
In between splendid culinary discoveries, attendees thrilled in Shake Shack’s Event-Exclusive Gold Sundae: A new sundae featuring vanilla cake, frozen vanilla custard and made with White Truffle Butterscotch Caramel and garnished with roasted hazelnuts and gold flakes; The Basket by Grubhub: Wing tasting with four popular sauces from: Mudville 9, Mable’s Smokehouse, Tacombi, and Insa; Goldbelly Special Delivery: A wall of special Goldbelly boxes are available to choose from, each containing an exclusive Goldbelly takeaway; Wine.com Carts: Exclusive wine sips with Wine.com at various tasting carts throughout Dip Into Gold. The complimentary pours will enhance the bites featured in each unique section; The Cheesecake Factory Photo Booth: Capture your saucy smiles at The Cheesecake Factory photobooth; and to end the perfect night sweet tweets from Milk Bar Milk Truck: a custom-designed milk truck will provide complimentary desserts.
Here is to creating your own golden experience in your own town today with American Express.
Photos by: Jamie Mccarthy, Getty
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