ld Paris, a city known for its rich culinary history and traditionalist chefs. New Paris, a city known for its movers and shakers, chefs who are breaking molds and redefining the art of eating. While Paris may still be a few years behind its more savvy sibling city, New York, the new generation of ex-pats and internationally minded folks opening up shop in Paris are also breathing new life to the city. Today, while French bureaucracy is still enough to stifle any creative or entrepreneurial inclination you may have, it’s also that added challenge that bores the most wonderful, sustainable, projects and cultivates truly creative ideas.
Meet Jenny & Tara- two of the hippest chicks you’ll ever meet. When you’re raised in Brooklyn and TriBeca, as they were, coolness is practically in your DNA. After working for 3.1 Philip Lim for six years, climbing the golden staircase of fashion hierarchy, they decided they were ready to take on a new challenge. The stress of working for ‘the man’ and their passion for the culture of New York brought them to the idea of starting their own business. As many in our generation believe, for Tara and Jenny, becoming their own bosses was the ultimate creative freedom.
They say it all began on a work trip to Beirut, where the girls, overlooking the Mediterranean at The Sporting Club, grew their idea to start a creative agency that could merge their passions for food, culture & fashion. The plan is simple- to spread the wonderful culture they knew and loved in Brooklyn to another international city- which they eventually decided would be Paris. Named after this locale where their best ideas were born, The Sporting Project is now the most interesting concept to hit the Paris culinary scene in quite some time. Once the idea was set, the next step was probably the hardest- crossing all of France’s red tape to make their business official. Any ex-pat trying to work in France can tell you that getting that Carte de Séjour (or residency permit) is one of the most daunting tasks ever. But add on the fact that these girls were going for the elusive ‘Talents & Competences” card, and you’re pretty much facing constant NO’s and “It’s not possible’s.” The reason I knew their project was going to be an instant success was when they told me that they got the visa they needed, officially launched a French business, and didn’t lose an ounce of creative momentum in the process. Bravo!
So, what is the Sporting Project? Imagine a couple of the best chefs in New York hopping on a plane and bringing their talents, recipes, and culture to a kitchen in Paris, where lovely patrons are privy to a ‘pop-up’ restaurant for just one week.
The New York fever that has hit Paris lately, from speakeasy cocktail bars to burgers galore (yes, I know, Paris is like way behind…), is going to spike come this Wednesday when the Sporting Project inaugurates their first dinner with the chefs from NYC’s The Fat Radish. The first pop-up dinner will be held at Bob’s Kitchen in the Marais- a veggie favorite in Paris- as one of four dinners per year, centered around Fashion Week.
In the last few months, since the girls landed and installed themselves in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, their to-do lists have been growing. Tara, the finance side of the project, spends her days working on excel sheets, driving deals and pretty much “hustling” as she calls it. Jenny, or the “friends and flowers” as they named her role, handles the PR, shopping and creation sides of the project. (The day we met, her bags were full of nuts and seeds fresh from the Saturday market at Bastille). Each day is go, go, go as they learn the in and outs of sourcing food, meet with their team, and figure out how exactly to give their diners the feeling that they’re not eating in Bob’s Kitchen in Paris- but rather an ethereal, “blink and you’ll miss it” but wish you could always eat there kind of place. To help the effect, they’ve even figured out how to move a photobooth from Brooklyn to Paris. Look forward to a photobooth by The Family Band NYC present at the pop-up dinner this week.
Being the organic foodies that they are, Tara and Jenny found the best of the best when it comes to produce and wines for their dinner. Taking notes from Braden & Laura of the restaurant Verjus, The Sporting Project will be using foods sourced from Terroir d’Avenir- including KALE, one of Paris’ newest leafy greens (Just ask The Kale Project). Wines for the dinner were chosen by Juan Sanchez, of Semilla, La Dernière Goute and Fish.
No detail has been left to chance for this dinner. From the hand-made napkins by their friend in Brooklyn, to the staff, the menu, the wine, the location, and the atmosphere- the first ever Sporting Project pop up dinner with The Fat Radish is going to be a success. Running from September 26-October 2, reservations are required and taken via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) Dinner goes for €85 a head, which is a steal if you think about the fact that your meal basically just flew in from New York.
So what will Tara and Jenny be doing once this pop up is finished? Well, all I can say is that Paris should brace itself for a new kind of food revolution- in the liquid form.