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“Gracious Gourmand is like open mic night for chefs”, Chef Ayinde Howell said to a packed house on Friday night, October 22, 2010. After serving up an impressive seven-course Moroccan-inspired meal, plus a carefully paired preserved lemon drop martini with date-sugar rim, featuring Kanon Organic Vodka, he also said, “Wow, I actually don’t know any of you, which is awesome!”.

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It was one of the coolest autumn nights yet, and the cozy, candle-lit back room at the Second Stop Cafe in Williamsburg glowed with warmth, local flowers, decorative gourds, and a small crowd of fashion designers, actors, foodies, and artists whose conversational din must have radiated out onto the sidewalk, drawing the curiosity of more than one passerby, who poked their heads in to see what was happening.

When I started Gracious Gourmand a couple months ago, this is exactly what I had envisioned: an intimate, decadent, and joyous gathering where exceptional food is the star.

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If you have not yet come to one of our events, make sure not to miss the next one, featuring the outstanding chef Pam Brown of Woodstock’s Garden Cafe on November 5, 2010.