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Two weeks ago, Ghetto Gastro posted an image to its Instagram account—an announcement of their latest video series called “Gastronomical Cribs.” Atop a bright yellow background was a photo of the professional skater Tony Hawk, and the caption let us know we’d be seeing more from him, and others, on Instagram Live.
Airing quite frankly whenever they feel like it, “Gastronomical Cribs” takes viewers on a personal journey of the interviewee’s life today—confined to their home, just like the rest of us, to talk about anything and everything. So far, special guests like Chef Samin Nosrat and supermodel Naomi Campbell have given us a glimpse at their day-to-day life, explaining and virtually showing the rest of us how they’re spending their time amid the pandemic.
Whitewall spoke with the guys behind Ghetto Gastro—Jon Gray, Lester Walker, Malcolm Livingston II, and Pierre Serrao—to hear about “Gastronomical Cribs,” how they’re reacting to the pandemic, and which Bronx restaurants they can’t wait to get back to.
WHITEWALL: NYC is our home, and it’s a tough time right now for us during COVID-19. How are you doing?
GHETTO GASTRO: We’re doing our best to keep our heads in the game and stay helpful. We hit Kerby [Jean-Raymond] from Pyer Moss to gather insights and advice on the work he’s been doing during the pandemic. We’re looking to link with Angelo [Baque] from Awake New York to feed medical workers on the front lines in the Bronx and Queens.
WW: How are you spending your time? How are you staying inspired?
GG: Meditating, reading, FaceTiming loved ones, watching TV, pre-production for “Gastronomical Cribs.”
WW: Tell us a bit about your “Gastronomical Cribs.”
GG: We’re not making light of the situation, but we felt that the immediate contribution that we could activate was to share light with our digital community. Most folks are in their home and on their phones, so we figured we’d hit our homies and see what they’ve been doing in their homes—from cooking to self-care practices.
WW: What’s been your favorite so far and why?
GG: Hard to pick a favorite and we’re learning how to host as we go. Samin Nosrat was dope, Tony [Hawk] was funny, and Naomi [Campbell] is Naomi, which is, to say, a legend. We had some technical issues with Kelis and Don C, but they did their thing too.
WW: Late last year, we visited TRUNK(HOUSE) in Tokyo. They mentioned you were there just days before, and we tried a chocolate popsicle dessert you made that they had saved in the freezer. We were shocked to learn it was entirely plant-based. Can you tell us about this?
GG: That bar you had is from our “36 Brix Velato” collection, from the mind of the Ice Lord aka Malcolm Livingston II. We did the Queen & Slim premier party with our friend Melina [Matsoukas] the night before in L.A., so we got some dry ice and brought them to Tokyo. We did a collaboration at TRUNK(HOUSE) with their chef to celebrate our dear friend Fraser Cookes’ birthday and Futura’s opening at MASS Gallery. Global Gang activity.
WW: Can you tell us a bit about being more plant-based in the kitchen? Any quick tips or tricks for substituting things, or rules you live by?
GG: We just like to shed light on how we like to make vegetables delicious—from frying mushrooms and cauliflower like chicken to not using dairy in our gelato bases.
WW: When the city opens back up, where will you be eating? Any favorite places or dishes you can hint to?
GG: When the city opens up, I’m going to support all the homies because the hospitality industry is taking a huge hit from the pandemic. They survive on minuscule margins and they need asses in seats to survive.
Gotta touch the local BX spots first—so La Morada and Feroza’s. And in Manhattan, Thai Diner, Atoboy, Wildair, and Crown Shy.
If you want these spots to survive when the city opens back up, please support their GoFundMe links.