Originally posted by Wired
THE PALAZZO-STYLE BUILDING in the heart of the Bronx known as Andrew Freedman Home was once a retirement refuge for rich New Yorkers who fell on hard times. Today it’s a sprawling event and gallery space. It stands majestically on a tract of lawn behind a neat procession of trees that have gone naked on this crisp, overcast Tuesday in February. Outside the lawn’s gate, an apartment-packed stretch of Grand Concourse is furious with movement and sound. The building’s first-floor kitchen is just as lively: Quavo and Lil Yachty’s “Ice Tray,” an entrancing trap song, purrs then quakes.
The main attraction lies just past the kitchen doors, where a long, horizontal sign—“STURDY GANG NEVER NOT FRESH”—leans against a large steel vent. There’s some serious cooking going on in here. Witness: A pantry yawns wide, stuffed with spices and seasonings in labeled containers—“Wasabi Powder,” “Corn Meal,” “Hibiscus”—and in a that’s-what-she-said wink familiar to any New Yorker, “Meat Rub (Pause).” A pot simmers somewhere on a sizable industrial stove. Surrounding it, clad in black from head to toe, three chefs move about with melody and purpose—slicing into carrots and thick hooves of ginger, rinsing purple potatoes, sifting through activated charcoal, moving from table to stove to sink and back again.
The choreography is so precise you’d swear it was lifted from an Alvin Ailey performance. The all-star cast includes Lester Walker, Pierre Serrao, and Malcolm Livingston II, three-quarters of the Bronx-based food collective known as Ghetto Gastro. They formed in 2012, but their ambitions go beyond the conventional song-and-dance of a mere catering firm (which they will tell you they are decidedly not). Together, they’re helping to redefine the intersections of fashion, music, film, and visual art by using food as the spark to larger conversations around inclusion, race, and economic empowerment. You can’t fault them for a lack of ambition. Right now, they’re in deep prep mode for Taste of Wakanda, a Black Panther-themed food event they and Marvel are hosting for New York Fashion Week.