2013-10-11 / Community

Cuisine by Claudette Blends Food and Art

By Katie McFadden

“Food and art. What a beautiful thing,” Claudette Flatow, owner of Cuisine by Claudette said, speaking of an upcoming event at her restaurant which will feature both.

On Friday, October 18th at 6 p.m., Flatow will be hosting an art show and sale at her restaurant at 143 Beach 116th Street which will feature a night of outstanding food and local art. Guests who attend the event will be offered a complimentary glass of wine, a special tasting of Italian imported extra virgin olive oils and, of course, an opportunity to view different works of art and meet the artists.

Flatow has invited local artists and friends to showcase their work at a pop-up exhibit in her restaurant. Before making food her medium, Flatow attended art school and practiced fine art and painting, so she has an appreciation for local artists. The exhibit will feature works by artist Thomas Kerr, watercolorist Arlene Cornell, printmaker Christian LeGars, photographer Liz Smith, photographer Irv Gordon, wood maker Jack Neafrey, furniture artist Sherry Calamia, drawings by Thomas Kerr and pottery by Gene Nichol and Wave publisher Susan Locke.

This particular exhibit will last for two weeks until November 2nd, but Flatow says she has local art on display all throughout the year.

A Rockaway resident for more than 20 years coming from France, Flatow noted that she tries to involve local residents in all that she does, including when it comes to whom she hires. “I shop Rockaway, I hire Rockaway, I do everything Rockaway,” she said. She gave cooking lessons for about 15 years around the community before deciding to take the next step of opening her own restaurant, just seven months before Sandy struck. Flatow knows firsthand the hardship that Sandy caused for Rockaway. She lost the entire basement of her home to floodwater and her restaurant also fell a victim to the storm. However, the storm didn’t keep her down. “I couldn’t not re-open,” she said, but she admits “it wasn’t easy” to come back.

With more than $40,000 in damage, and not receiving any help from FEMA, insurance companies or the Small Business Administration, reopening was a financial challenge.

Flatow credits a generous friend for helping her get back on her feet. With tears in her eyes, she recalled how a friend from Brooklyn left her a $10,000 check to use towards her restaurant, no questions asked.

After replacing all that was lost during the storm, Flatow was able to open her restaurant about two and a half months later, just before Christmas.

The exhibition opening on October 18th will be a comeback event of sorts, being the first event that the restaurant has held since the storm. Despite being open for several months, business has been slower than usual, which Flatow believes is due to residents not being back in full force after the storm.

“We need something to cheer the place up,” she said as a reason for hosting the art and cuisine event. “It’s close to a year since the storm and it’s a good thing to do,” Flatow said.

Flatow’s restaurant and catering business features a variety of cuisine that would please anyone’s taste buds any time of the year.

The menu is constantly changing, but everything is always made fresh and she offers gluten-free and vegan dishes, as well as meat and fish options.

Many of her dishes are inspired by recipes she picked up while traveling, so there’s a little bit of everything on the menu.

Being a firm believer in healthy eating, many of Flatow’s dishes are delectable, yet not hard on the waistline. Visitors can indulge in dishes like roasted turkey breast, chicken parmigiano or king salmon and pair it with sides like roasted vegetables or golden quinoa with apples and cranberries.

She also offers a variety of fresh made juices, smoothies and protein shakes made with fresh, homemade ingredients for those looking for a quick, healthy treat. It’s worth the trip to stop by and see what’s on the menu and it’s difficult to leave empty handed. Cuisine by Claudette is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

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