Claudia Valentina & Arturo Brena, Kéex

Equal parts singer, dancer and jaranera, Claudia Valentina epitomizes the mélange parfait of modern New York as a California-born, New York-raised daughter of Mexican and Jamaican immigrants. As a singer, Claudia has toured internationally to China, to perform at the Shanghai Expo as one of the soloists for the United Nations Singers. As a musician and dancer, she has recorded and toured the US and Mexico, as lead singer, playing the jarana (a string instrument from Veracruz) and doing traditional percussive dance on a tarima (wooden box) with the Afromexican NY-based Jarana Beat, winners of the 2015 Mexican Music Award for Best Contemporary Folk Band. Together with Arturo Brena, she formed Kéex - a Mayan word which means to arouse, provoke or stimulate. Their music does just that by telling stories of cultural adaptation from Mexico to the US, through song, dance, and dialogue. They were our first musical guests in fall 2018, and we’re thrilled to have them return this November.

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ROSA, vocal group

Traditional vocal group ROSA is a New York based, all-female vocal ensemble that unites singers from 4 different continents with a mission to preserve and nurture the authentic form of traditional, non-tempered singing from Serbia. Songs that ROSA performs date decades, often centuries back and have been surviving in rural areas of Serbia and the surrounding countries. Irreducible to the Western tonal system, these songs are impossible to write down with precision and are carried on as an oral tradition. ROSA has performed at numerous and critically acclaimed venues - MoMA, Carnegie Hall, Boston University Theater, The Collective School of Music, Mendocino Festival, Golden Festival, as well as at fund-raising events for Balkan communities in need. 2018 performance highlights include the sold-out show at Carnegie Hall titled Sounds of Serbia and Peace First Summit hosted by the philanthropist and Barack Obama’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng. Within its work, ROSA closes gaps between two polarities - nurturing something very ancient in a contemporary setting, keeping a national treasure alive within an international community, and maintaining connection to roots and nature in a fast-paced concrete jungle that is NYC. Check out their website, facebook, and instagram. We cannot wait to welcome them to brunch this October!

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Diana Manalang, Founder, Little Chef Little Kitchen

As a self-taught chef, Diana learned the tricks of the trade from practice, research, and countless kitchen experiments. Now, after 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry, she’s bringing culinary expertise directly to her community with Little Chef Little Kitchen. Her mission is to combine her industry knowledge and a personalized approach to create dishes and menus that are tailored to client’s personal taste buds, special dietary needs, and specific occasions. As a child of an immigrant in the 80s and 90s, Diana was embarrassed by her mom's accent and the "weird" food she would cook for her and her friends. When everyone was having toast and eggs for breakfast, her mom was serving steaming bowls of arroz caldo (rice porridge) or garlic rice with fried eggs and fish! It wasn’t until Diana went to college that she discovered should be proud and embrace her heritage. Since then, she hasn’t looked back. Every dish on this month’s menu pays homage to her mom and her roots. All of the flavors remind her of home and are not only delicious, but evoke memories that make her feel an entire range of emotions - ones that she is excited to share with guests by putting this beautiful food on a plate and allowing them to create their own connection and emotion through these flavors. We’re so excited to take this journey with her in September!

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Chris Rogicki & Nayelli Valencia Turrent, Instructors, Fuakata

Fuákata - Cuban Salsa New York was founded in October of 2007 to promote Cuban-style Salsa, also know as Casino, and Timba, Cuba’s variant of Salsa music, in NYC and beyond. Fuákata has trained in Cuba and traveled around the world, giving both dance lessons and performances at Salsa congresses, community and corporate events. Fuákata strives to showcase the beauty of Cuban Salsa, its evolution, and the diversity of styles it embodies and was recently named the best place to learn Cuban dance in NYC by Thrillist. They host weekly classes in Manhattan to all levels of dancers, weekly and weekend dance parties and socials, group outings, live music/concert events, and legal travel opportunities to both Havana and Santiago de Cuba each year. Their group classes are taught by Christopher Rogicki and Nayelli Valencia Turrent, with Level 1/Absolute Beginner every Wednesday night at 7pm at Adelante Studios in midtown Manhattan. Nayelli and Chris will have you dancing, smiling, laughing, and getting a great workout in an extremely stress-free environment after just one 90-min group lesson. For additional info, check out their website, facebook, and instagram and be sure to mention “Brooklyn Brunch Club” for 50% off your first class. We had so much fun dancing with them in August 2019!


Ethan Frisch, Co-Founder, Burlap & Barrel

Ethan is a native New Yorker, entrepreneur and activist around issues of  intercultural communication, food systems, and social justice. Ethan has spent significant time in the kitchen as a line cook and pastry chef in New York and London, and as the chef behind Guerrilla Ice Cream, an activist ice cream cart. He’s worked with NGOs in Afghanistan and on the Syrian/Jordanian border. He is honored to serve on the Board of Directors of the Bond Street Theatre, which uses theater to teach conflict resolution in areas of instability around the world, and Restaurant After Hours addressing the mental health crisis in the restaurant industry, and on the Advisory Boards of the student-led justice organization CHOOSE and Fragments Theater in Palestine. He is also on the Organizing Committee of the Queens International Night Market. He holds a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Conflict Studies and Education and  Social Change from CUNY, and a Master’s Degree in Violence, Conflict and Development from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. He certainly spiced things up at Brunch Club in July 2019!


Michelle Palmieri & Enrico de Trizio, Cacao Blues

Cacao Blues is a pop duo born from the long time collaboration of Grammy Award winner keyboardist Enrico de Trizio and Guatemalan born singer songwriter Michelle Palmieri. Their music takes the romance of traditional Latin American styles like bolero and tango, and brings it into a contemporary electronic soul soundscape. They brought musical magic to Brunch Club in June 2019!

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Maria Mercedes Martinez, artist, & Denver Butson, poet

Their first collaboration began twenty years ago, when visual artist  Maria Mercedes Martinez, put a cigar box with ten little drawings outside poet Denver Butson’s apartment door. Butson took the little drawings and paired them with words — some from previous poems, some randomly chosen from notebooks, some written just for the drawings themselves — and added ten new sets of words on the  same-sized pieces of paper and then returned the cigar box to the front of Martinez’s door. This back-and-forth continued for a few weeks, each time with the recipient responding to the ten new pieces and then adding ten additional pieces to the box. When they finished they had dozens of paired drawings/poems, which they called the cigar box project, a project which has been exhibited a few times since then, and always returned soon after to its original cigar box. Maria and Denver joined Brunch Club in February 2019 to share more about in which we all kiss something secretly - the third collaboration of these friends and artists over the past twenty years.


Marcy Brafman, painter

Marcy Brafman is a painter who lives and works in NYC in a second story studio overlooking the beautiful Holland Tunnel. Her work is concerned with the icons and indicators of life both on the ground and in the media. Her paintings and drawings are oracles of the miraculous and the terrible. Marcy Brafman studied Fine Arts at Bard College. We were pleased to have Marcy join Brunch Club in January 2019 to tell us more about her exhibit, Sympathy for the Future.