Fady Armanious puts the finishing touches on his lamb chops dressed with a pistachio, orange, lemon and herb mixture. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Tomato lentil crab soup prepared by Fady Armanious.(Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Kevin Black, Elizabeth Stein, Hallie Vanderhider, chef Fady Armanious discuss his menu.(Photo by Shelby Hodge)
A contemporary table setting for dinner with Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Fady Armanious not only prepares dinner but also does the flowers. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Fady Armanious' charred lemon saffron sea bass with figs and peas. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
The gents gather in the kitchen as Fady Armanious prepares dinner. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Bill Baldwin and Fady Armanious entertain guests in their townhome. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Fady Armanious pours his pasta into the sieve. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Fady Armanious' kitchen might be small but the results are huge and hugely delicious. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Host Bill Baldwin entertains Shafik Rifaat. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Fady Armanious' black truffle pasta. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
No surprise that fashion books fill Fady Armanious' home. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Fady Armanious puts the finishing touches on his foie gras torchon. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Fady Armanious begins plating his tomato and lentil crab soup. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Fady Armanious proudly displays the consequences of his shoe fetish. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
The surprise birthday cake for Tony Bradfield. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
When Tootsies creative director Fady Armanious invited us to dinner in the townhome he shares with real estate biggie and future mayoral candidate (think 2023) Bill Baldwin, we expected a pleasant evening. What we experienced was a rollicking good time and a fabulous five-course extravaganza that was delectable enough to challenge the Food Network’s Bobby Flay.
For as talented as he is in the fashion arena, Armanious is equally accomplished in the kitchen, cooking each course while chatting with dinner guests who mingle over glasses of Veuve Cliquot and Macallan Scotch. Hors d’oeuvres including bacon-wrapped dates are passed around. It’s a sumptuous routine that Armanious and Baldwin have perfected.
“I try to entertain as often as I can when we have the time between all the galas, work and travel,” Armanious says. “It’s such an amazing thing to have friends over, to talk, drink and cook.”
Those uninitiated in Armanious’ style of hospitality are invited upstairs to view the home chef’s lavishly ridiculous shoe collection. It reveals a fetish that could, not unexpectedly, rival that of Carrie Bradshaw as Armanious is well known for his personal sartorial splendor.
Back in the open kitchen, Armanious with the help of one assistant works on the completion of the first course of his “Around the World” dinner. The theme is a nod to his passion for travel. Anyone who follows Armanious on Instagram knows that he and Baldwin have traveled the world.
“As much as I travel, as you know I love to travel — a lot, I collect spices from everywhere I go,” he says. “So I try to use them when I get back here and create something that is unusual, that is kind of healthy but yet colorful in a way that spices can speak to you with all their richness.”
The spices in his cupboard have origins ranging from Mumbai to Machu Picchu, from Capri to Colombia. He notes that the exotic seasonings also come from Thailand, France, Italy and Armanious’ native Egypt. Speaking of Egypt, we ask if he cooks dishes from the home county.
“I do, but not as good as my mother,” he says.
Fady’s Kitchen Magic
The kitchen is small so Armanious uses every square inch in the process of preparing the mammoth dinner for nine. It’s an impressive tour de force. The lamb chops are dressed in the skillet sitting atop the stove. The pot for boiling pasta for the truffle dish is warming up and the finely cut carrots await presentation.
With so many courses of such varied ingredients and precise preparation required, we have to know if he follows recipes.
“I glance at recipes every once in a while just to get an inspiration but I never repeat just that,” Armanious says. “I try to make it my own.”
That includes focusing on presentation equally as much as preparation.
“I love to play with the color and building a plate that almost looks like a piece of art. It tastes good, of course, but also looks good,” he explains. “And being in fashion, I think it’s something very important for a plate to look stylish, done in almost like a Michelin way that it’s beautifully, artistically presented.”
“Around the World” Menu:
Tomato lentil crab soup
Foie gras au torchon rose tarte
Charred lemon saffron sea bass with figs
Black truffle pasta
Lamb chops dressed with a pistachio, orange, lemon and herb mixture, served with eggplant, tomatoes and carrots.
Dessert was a surprise birthday cake for Tony Bradfield, the cake designed to resemble a Tenenbaum Jewelers gift box filled with edible jewelry. Created by Common Bond’s Sarah Ono Jones.
The guest list: Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Kevin Black, Hallie Vanderhider, Shafik Rifaat and Shelby Hodge. The dinner was, in fact, Armanious’ belated Christmas gift to Vanderhider.