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← The next big thing is coming from the Bronx, again

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Showing Revision 13 created 06/28/2019 by Brian Greene.

  1. My name is Jon Gray.
  2. They call me "The Dishwasher."
  3. I cofounded Ghetto Gastro,
  4. a Bronx-based collective
  5. that works at the intersection
    of food, design and art.
  6. We create experiences that challenge
    people's perceptions of the Bronx,
  7. the place that I call home.
  8. It's a funny thing.

  9. I just touched down in Vancouver
    from Paris a few days ago.
  10. We took over the Place Vendôme
    with the Bronx Brasserie.
  11. Oui oui, chérie.
  12. (Laughter)

  13. It's wild, because in Paris,
    they have this saying,

  14. "le Bronx,"
  15. which means something
    is in disarray or a problem.
  16. That's the Place Vendôme.
  17. We shut it down one time.
  18. (Laughter)

  19. This lingo came into play
    when the Bronx was burning,

  20. and movies like "The Warriors"
    and "Fort Apache"
  21. still make an impression.
  22. Some may disagree,
  23. but I believe the Bronx
    was designed to fail.
  24. The power broker was a joker.
  25. Robert Moses, instead of
    parting the Red Sea,
  26. he parted the Bronx
    with a six-lane highway
  27. and redlined my community.
  28. My great-grandparents
    had a home on Featherbed Lane,
  29. and contrary to the name,
  30. they couldn't get a good night's rest
  31. due to the constant blasting
    and drilling that was necessary
  32. to build the cross-Bronx expressway
  33. a block away.
  34. I consider these policy decisions
  35. design crimes.
  36. (Applause)

  37. Being the resilient people
    that we are uptown,

  38. out of the systematic oppression
  39. hip-hop culture rose from the rubble
    and the ashes like a phoenix.
  40. Hip-hop is now a trillion-dollar industry,
  41. but this economic activity
    doesn't make it back to the Bronx
  42. or communities like it.
  43. Let's take it back to 1986.

  44. I was born in the heart
    of the AIDS crisis,
  45. the crack epidemic
  46. and the War on Drugs.
  47. The only thing that trickled down
    from Reaganomics was ghettonomics:
  48. pain, prison and poverty.
  49. I was raised by brilliant, beautiful
    and accomplished black women.

  50. Even so, my pops wasn't in the picture,
  51. and I couldn't resist
    the allure of the streets.
  52. Like Biggie said,
  53. you're either slinging crack rock
    or you got a wicked jump shot.
  54. Don't get it twisted, my jumper was wet.
  55. (Laughter)

  56. My shit was wet.

  57. (Applause)

  58. But when I turned 15,
    I started selling weed,

  59. I didn't finish high school,
  60. the New York Board of Education
    banned me from all of those,
  61. but I did graduate
    to selling cocaine when I turned 18.
  62. I did well.
  63. That was until I got jammed up,
    caught a case, when I was 20.
  64. I was facing 10 years.
  65. I posted bail, signed up
    at the Fashion Institute,
  66. I applied the skills
    that I learned in the streets
  67. to start my own fashion brand.
  68. My lawyer peeked my ambition,
  69. so he suggested that the judge
    grant me a suspended sentence.
  70. For once in my life,
    a suspension was a good thing.
  71. (Laughter)

  72. Over the course of two years
    and many court dates,

  73. my case got dismissed.
  74. Both of my brothers have done jail time,
  75. so escaping the clutches
    of the prison industrial system
  76. didn't seem realistic to me.
  77. Right now, one of my brothers
    is facing 20 years.
  78. My mother put in great effort
    in taking me out to eat,
  79. making sure we visited museums
  80. and traveled abroad,
  81. basically exposing me
    to as much culture as she could.
  82. I remembered how as a kid,

  83. I used to take over the dinner table
    and order food for everybody.
  84. Breaking bread has always
    allowed me to break the mold
  85. and connect with people.
  86. Me and my homie Les,

  87. we grew up on the same block in the Bronx,
  88. two street dudes.
  89. He happened to be a chef.
  90. We always discussed the possibility
    of doing something in the food game
  91. for the benefit of our neighborhood.
  92. Les had just won the food show "Chopped."
  93. Our homie Malcolm was gearing up
    to run a pastry kitchen at Noma,
  94. yeah, world's best Noma in Copenhagen,
    you know the vibes.
  95. My man P had just
    finished training in I-I-Italy,
  96. Milano to be exact.
  97. We decided the world needed
    some Bronx steasoning on it,
  98. so we mobbed up and formed Ghetto Gastro.
  99. (Applause)

  100. While I'm aware our name
    makes a lot of people uncomfortable,

  101. for us "ghetto" means home.
  102. Similar to the way
    someone in Mumbai or Nairobi
  103. might use the word "slum,"
  104. it's to locate our people
  105. and to indict the systems of neglect
    that created these conditions.
  106. (Applause)

  107. So what is Ghetto Gastro?

  108. Ultimately, it's a movement
    and a philosophy.
  109. We view the work we do as gastrodiplomacy,
  110. using food and finesse
  111. to open borders and connect culture.
  112. Last year in Tokyo,
  113. we did a Caribbean patty,
  114. we do jerk wagyu beef,
  115. shio kombu.
  116. We remixed the Bronx classic
    with the Japanese elements.
  117. And for Kwanzaa,
  118. we had to pay homage to our Puerto Ricans,
  119. and we did a coconut charcoal
    cognac coquito. Dímelo!
  120. (Laughter)

  121. This here is our Black Power waffle

  122. with some gold leaf syrup.
  123. Make sure you don't slip on the drip.
  124. (Laughter)

  125. Here we got the 36 Brix
    plant-based velato.

  126. Strawberry fields, you know the deal.
  127. Compressed watermelon,
  128. basil seeds,
  129. a little bit of strawberries up there.
  130. Back to the Bronx Brasserie,
  131. you know we had to hit them in the head
    with that caviar and cornbread.
  132. (Laughter)

  133. (Applause)

  134. We also practice du-rag diplomacy.

  135. (Laughter)

  136. Because, we don't edit who we are
    when we do our thing.

  137. Due to our appearance,
  138. we often get mistaken
    for rappers or athletes.
  139. It happened here last year at TED.
  140. This dude ran down on me
  141. and asked me when I was going to perform.
  142. How about now?
  143. (Applause)

  144. So you see,

  145. we've been bringing the Bronx to the world
  146. but now we focus on bringing
    the world to the Bronx.
  147. We just opened our spot,
  148. an idea kitchen
  149. where we make and design products,
  150. create content --
  151. (Music)

  152. and host community events.

  153. The intention is
    to build financial capital
  154. and creative capital in our hood.
  155. We're also collaborating
    with world-renowned chef

  156. Massimo Bottura
  157. on a refettorio in the Bronx.
  158. A refettorio is a design-focused
    soup kitchen and community center.
  159. You see the vibes.
  160. (Applause)

  161. The recent outpouring of grief
    about the murder

  162. of rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle
  163. is largely due to the fact that he decided
    to stay and evolve in place,
  164. rather than leave his hood.
  165. After his death, some may see
    this decision as foolish,
  166. but I'm making that same
    decision every day:
  167. to live in the Bronx,
  168. to create in the Bronx,
  169. to invest in the Bronx.
  170. (Applause)

  171. At Ghetto Gastro, we don't run
    from the word "ghetto,"

  172. and we don't run from the ghetto.
  173. Because at the end of the day,
  174. Ghetto Gastro is about showing you
    what we already know:
  175. the hood
  176. is good.
  177. (Applause)

  178. Thank you.

  179. (Applause)