Ginny’s Supper Club: A Gospel Brunch at Red Rooster, Harlem

Red Rooster Large

310 Lenox Avenue, between 125TH & 126TH ST. Harlem, NYC

About Marcus Samuelsson, Ginny’s Supper Club and Red Rooster, Harlem

    Food, glorious, food! I adore it almost as much as I adore travel. Oh, and shoes (but that’s a story for another day). If you are a foodie, you probably know the name Marcus Samuelsson…Chef Marcus Samuelsson, to be exact. If you don’t know him, you’ve got to pick up a copy of his memoir. His personal story is fascinating. He was born in Ethiopia and is one of nineteen children. At the age of one, Marcus, his sister Linda and his mother all contracted Tuberculosis. Sadly, his mother passed away from the disease. He and Linda were subsequently adopted and raised in Sweden. His passion for food ignited while helping his Grandmother Helga, every Saturday afternoon, in her kitchen. He studied culinary arts in Sweden, apprenticed in Switzerland & France and, finally, made the move to New York City in 1994. He apprenticed at Aquavit, worked his way up to Executive Chef and gained fame, merely one year later, for receiving two three-star ratings from the New York Times,  at the age of twenty-three. He was the youngest chef ever to do so, at the time. His dream of melding American comfort/soul food with Swedish/African notes became a reality in 2010 with the opening of Red Rooster Harlem, on 125th and Lenox Avenue. Marcus won Top Chef Masters Season 2 in 2010 and served as guest chef for the Obama administration’s first State Dinner. Trust me, you so want to eat at this guy’s place.

 “I want this to be a place where people from all walks of life break bread together.”-Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Click the book cover to preview or purchase Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Memoir. I loved it. So did President Clinton!

Red Rooster’s arrival in Harlem brought with it a chef who has reinvigorated and reimagined what it means to be American. In his famed dishes, and now in this memoir, Marcus Samuelsson tells a story that reaches past racial and national divides to the foundations of family, hope, and downright good food.”- Former President, Bill Clinton

In 2012, he and Andrew Chapman added Ginny’s Supper Club downstairs, in tribute to the Harlem Renaissance. The supper club pays homage to Harlem speakeasies of the twenties. It’s a chic little lounge with an intimate feel. The room pulses with the soulful spirit of a past era, reinvigorated. Live music, one-of-a-kind cocktails and warm wait staff inspire great conversation, belly laughs and a few tears at the incredible talent of the performers.

How Did This Gospel Brunch Idea Come About?

These people are party animals and, as such, have their identities hidden.

These people are notorious party animals and, as such, have had their identities hidden.

     Last August, my husband turned fifty.

50. The big 5-O. Fitty.

He didn’t turn the bad kind of fitty, er…fifty, where everyone buys you adult diapers, over-the-hill toilet paper and other, deeply depressing, gifts. No, this is the shiny new fifty; the fifty of “Sure, you can drink six more of those!” and “Of course you can eat that without taking your *Pepcid!” and “Just don’t eat the blue ones.” (I kid!) This is the fifty where you receive a whirlwind weekend getaway in New York City, with people as cool as the cast of St. Elmo’s Fire…and, most importantly, you actually know what St. Elmo’s Fire is because, with fifty, comes wisdom!

Oh, look! Judd Nelson! And Charlie Sheen’s brother! Win!
(Click photo to discover the magic that is “The Brat Pack”)

Yes, friends, this is the fifty with a monkey (he’s the short one, in the above “party animal” photo)! The fifty where Yankees star, Derek Jeter, presents your birthday cake on a chic Manhattan rooftop:

Ladies & Gentlemen, Derek Jeter!

Ladies & Gentlemen, Derek Jeter!

Okay, okay, it’s not Derek Jeter. I’m on a limited budget. I got the next best thing. A great kid in a Yankees shirt.

But there was this:


Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir (a.k.a. A Choir of Angels to Our Ears)

I knew I wanted to do a few special things for hubby, while we were in NYC. We had an intimate rooftop celebration (with cake!) followed by a delicious birthday dinner at Peking Duck House in Chinatown. On a family member’s advice, we caught some improv at Upright Citizens Brigade in Chelsea (well worth the $5 ticket to get in). We walked The Highline Park at night. We drank waaaaay too much beer.

Exhibit A:

The Holy Grail

The Holy Grail: There were more where these came from.

But there was one more thing I knew The Caffeinated Hubby would want to try. This fifty included gospel brunch in Harlem!

Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir at Ginny’s Supper Club

In 2006, acclaimed writer and producer Vy Higginsen, along with gospel luminary Emily “Cissy” Houston (yes, Whitney’s momma), teamed up to create the award-winning Mama Foundation for the Arts. Out of this came Vy Higginsen’s School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts, educating aspiring teenagers on the importance of gospel music as an art. Every Sunday the perfect pairing happens in Harlem. Vy Higginsen’s kids perform at Marcus Samuelsson’s supper club. It is magic.


Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir


These kids can sing!

I had NO IDEA they would invite The Caffeinated Hubby up to sing!

I had NO IDEA they would invite The Caffeinated Hubby up & sing to him…

...and dance!

…and dance…

Look at those moves!

…and ask him to dance. Look at those moves!

To watch 60 Minutes’ fascinating three part documentary on the choir, click here.

We had a fantastic time at Red Rooster/Ginny’s Supper Club and with Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir!

The food is incredible!With menu items such as:

  • Deviled Eggs with chicken skin mayo & caviar (I dream about these, nightly, and fantasize about them, every afternoon. (In fact, I am right now ;P)
  • Mac N’ Greens with smoked gouda, NY Cheddar & caramelized onions
  • (Grandma) Helga’s Meatballs (Yes, with lingonberries!)
  • Biscuits & Gravy (I mean, really…)

Get yourself to Red Rooster! There is a strict no-reservations policy. First seating is at 10.30am, second seating 12.30pm. The bar is open for Bloody Mary’s, Red Eye Rooster’s (a Bloody Mary with Beer) or, my own personal brunch beverage favorite, coffee!

Do yourself a favor. Buy one of Marcus Samuelsson’s cookbooks! Make his food! Thank me, later!

 Have You Been to Red Rooster/ Ginny’s Supper Club? What Do You Think About Gospel Brunch? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

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Until next time, happy day tripping!







*Pepcid, though ingested liberally by The Caffeinated Day Tripper, is in no way endorsed by Erin. She is not a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, witch doctor, acupuncturist or spiritual healer. Never EVER take her medical advice. You’ll probably die. Really painfully.

About the Author: Erin


  1. Reply Michele

    What an amazing way to celebrate a fiftieth I hope you are already planning your own :-) a friend is celebrating this year and doing 50 things of her choice.

    • Reply Erin

      What a great idea! I’ve got another 6 years to go so I’m going to hold off on the planning for a few years. I may use your friend’s idea. ;)

  2. Reply frankaboutcroatia

    What a great way to celebrate 50th birthday! I’ve actually read Marcus Samuelsson’s book and loved it. I would love to have a chance to eat at his restaurant.

  3. Reply jennifer

    I have never been to a Gospel Brunch. I know they have one in Las Vegas that I have been tempted to try just to try it. Perhaps now I will!

    • Reply Erin

      Oh funny! I had no idea that was a fast food chain. Yes, I imagine it’s probably a bit better ;P

  4. Reply Chris Boothman

    What an awesome experience this looks like and the menu looks amazing! A great way to celebrate your birthday and have brunch at the same time. Never visited a Red Rooster before but after seeing this, I will definitely have to sample for myself.

  5. Reply Elena

    What a fun way to celebrate a 50th birthday! Loved the photo with the faces censored! Looks like you had lots of fun :)

  6. Reply Dave Cole

    It’s so fun to get up on stage, glad it happened! I need to make it up to Harlem the next time I’m home, as I’m sure the food is really special.

    • Reply Erin

      It really is, Dave. And there is such a cool vibe to the place. Maybe you can say it’s your birthday & get up there on stage yourself! ;P

  7. Reply Ashley and Alex

    We love food as well almost as much as travel and the gospel brunch sounds fantastic. We will have to check it out when we head to New York next summer! Looks like your husband had a great birthday, he’s a lucky guy!

  8. Reply Emily

    Awesome post and great writing! I love the look of Red Rooster – food is my favourite thing about NYC and now I want to go back even more :)

  9. Reply Bob R

    This was all very much new to me. I vaguely remember hearing Marcus’ name, but appreciate reading his story.
    All new, except for St Elmo’ Fire, whose theme song I’m now humming. And likely will for the rest of the day. Thanks for that. Really. :)

  10. Reply Brianna

    Looks like a fun party! I’d love to eat at one of Marcus Samuelson’s restaurants. So much awesome food in NYC, so little time!

    • Reply Erin

      It was and you should! You have to do these things while you can because you are exactly right, Brianna, so much food, so little time!

  11. Reply Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    Wow, what a cool post! If I ever visit NYC, can you be my guide? You seem to know the city really well, and we have the passion for food in common. The whole menu sounds amazing! Even biscuits and gravy!

  12. Reply John Roberts

    How fun! Love your writer’s voice. I am 47 and hope to be that kind of fitty in a few years. I live close to NYC and am very impressed with the food scene developing in both Harlem and Brooklyn. I look forward to more of your posts. Cheers!

    • Reply Erin

      Thanks, so much, John :) I can already tell you WILL be that kind of 50. I’m planning on it too (in 7 more years). I also am really digging the food scene in Hell’s Kitchen. There’s this little place called La Carafe that has me daydreaming about their veal medallion and mussel dishes.

  13. Reply Jen

    You definitely sold me with this menu item: Mac N’ Greens with smoked gouda, NY Cheddar & caramelized onions. Sounds artery clogging, but heavenly. By the way, I really love the jacket you’re wearing in the first picture.

    • Reply Erin

      Oh, thanks Jen. Love that jacket, it’s super warm & comfy. Great for NYC. The food is fantastic, for sure. The deviled eggs are ridiculous!

  14. Reply City Sea Country

    Shoes are always a great idea because no matter if a woman gains or looses some pounds. Shoes will always fit. :D
    Never heard of the Red Rooster before but it sounds like it´s fun being there.

    • Reply Erin

      That’s exactly my theory on shoes. Nothing like a new pair or a new lipstick to make you feel amazing :)

  15. Reply Amber

    I’ve never heard of this, but I have to go now! That looks amazing, and what a cool way to celebrate a 50th birthday!

  16. Reply Globalmouse

    It looks like a great time! I spent one of my birthdays in New York and loved it – it’s one of those places you have to spend at least one birthday isn’t it? I must visit the Red Rooster now!

    • Reply Erin

      You’ll love it. They even have midnight brunch now, complete with live entertainment! I may have to go back for that :)

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