Emeril? I haven't heard that name in years, not since the late '90s, when celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse regularly invaded my home via the Food Network and my mother bought red sauce with his mug plastered across the jar. Granted, I am not particularly up on the culinary scene, so it's possible that Emeril and Wolfgang Puck have been hanging out without me. Still, I was nonetheless surprised to learn that the chef opened his first New York City restaurant last week: I mean, the man owns 12 food palaces, and you'd think at least one of those would be here. But no, Emeril quietly opened his first NYC venture, Rodos, in the lobby of Hotel Henri in Chelsea since January 8th. Its menu: Greek/Cajun fusion fare. BAM.
According to the NY Post, Rodos—a joint venture with restaurateurs Yiannis Chatiris and Eleni Vareli, and Emeril's hospitality group, We Love Food—offers "healthy Greek fare with a splash of New Orleans decadence," which is not really a flavor profile I can imagine, but okay. Emeril told the outlet that partnering with Chatiris was, out of some 75 NYC restaurant deals he's been pitched, the only one that felt right. Also, it seems the chef could not resist the opportunity to really kick it up a notch with some seafood.
"I'm inspired by the food and the people of Greece," Emeril told the Post. "I'm a fanatic about fish and so are the Greeks. That's why the food there is so magical. They are surrounded by the sea and the things that come out of the sea are incredible."
BAM is that ever true.
Emeril owns four restaurants in New Orleans, sure, but how much experience does he have with Greek cuisine? This is a question worth asking, and one I cannot answer, although Google suggests he can tell you how to make saganaki and Greek-style lamb kebabs and Greek stuffed eggplant, BAM.
Chatiris, however, is Greek, and owns his own restaurant Mykonos Blue in Hotel Hayden on West 28th Street: According to the Post, his primary "challenge was to mix the richness of Emeril's dishes with lighter Mediterranean fare." This after tasting Emeril's Thanksgiving gumbo, which Chatiris called "fantastic" and "like nothing [he'd] ever tasted," BAM, but so heavy it nearly gave him a heart attack. Diners can reportedly expect some sort of culinary balance, with a menu that reportedly "features classic Greek food, like lavraki, grilled branzino with kritamos leaves, ladolemono and capers, along with Lagasse's signature dishes, like Louisiana crawfish stuffed clams."
Do these cuisines complement, or do they compete? I can't really picture it, but then again, I never gleaned very much from Emeril's cooking show. Other than the notion that throwing a handful of herbs at whatever my mother was making and shouting BAM would definitely always be appreciated, of course. I suspect that may be what's going on here, and honestly, sounds fun.