“My mom called me this morning to tell me everything that could go wrong. She just knows what a big deal this is for me.”
The mood at Red Rooster on Wednesday morning was equal parts excitement and frenetic energy as the team got ready for the arrival of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden. Marcus’s nerves were no exception–the dry cleaner didn’t have his favorite shirt ready and it was pouring rain outside. But as they say, the Queen waits for no one and so everyone had to be on point for the royal luncheon.
Here to celebrate the 375th anniversary of the arrival of the first Swedish and Finnish settlers to the country (who eventually settled in Wilmington, Delaware), the royal family spent Wednesday touring the Castle Clinton National Monument in Battery Park to visit the U.S.’s first immigration center, but not without a special lunch at Red Rooster first.
Like Marcus himself, the event was equal parts African and Swedish in menu and design. Red Rooster barista Ijenela Ifill designed the colorful tablecloths that adorned the chef’s table, and mini glasses of the “Yes, Chef” cocktail were placed in front of each guest. A colorful group of European and American press waited patiently (some in the rain) for the royals to arrive, while a crowd of curious Harlemites stood outside waiting to see who was slated to arrive.
The intimate crowd of special guests were treated to a menu chosen by Marcus, which included seasonal produce to highlight the Harlem X Sweden menu. Rooster’s famous cornbread and smoked trout started the meal, with the Fried Yard Bird (affectionately called Harlem Kyckling) was up next, served alongside shrimp grits, collard greens and spring mushrooms. A special rhubarb papaya pie made by pastry chef Deborah Racicot finished the lunch.
Back out in the rain, the royal family (including Princess Madeleine and her fiancé Christopher O’Neill, who will marry in June) were ushered back into their cars on their way to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, where Marcus will be speaking on a panel called “Making It in America Jubilee Symposium” at the Independence Seaport Museum.
It was another historic day for Red Rooster and we were all proud and honored to welcome the Swedish Royal family into our Harlem home.
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