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Beyond Community: Louis Alvarez and N’kay

Feeding a City

A Portrait of New York

During a recent photoshoot in NYC, we explored the streets of the city, joining millions in one of the world’s great cities.

The poignant and evocative stories we stumbled upon proved that compelling and completely unique tales can be found everywhere.

In this article, we share these entirely unplanned and organic interactions, revealing the exceptional lives, communities, and stories of everyday people and establishments.

The Culinary Club: Louis Alvarez & OneWhite Street Restaurant

Originally hailing from Cuba, Louis Alvarez moved to New York eight years ago and fell in love with the vibrant city. He now finds himself working as a line chef at One White Street restaurant.

Originally from Cuba, when Louis Alvarez visited New York, he immediately fell in love with the city. Eight years later, he’s still there, and now finds himself working as a line chef at One White Street restaurant.

Established by chef Austin Johnson and sommelier Dustin Wilson after a chance meeting became a friendship, One White Street, or 1WST, is a converted townhouse with an unusual history.

Back in 1973, it was listed as the ‘embassy’ address for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s conceptual country, Nutopia. When announcing the founding, the couple proclaimed it would be a place open to everyone with “no land, no borders, only people”.

This community focus has remained with the restaurant that now stands at the same address, with Johnson and Wilson describing it as “a place where all are welcome.”

A Meeting of Opposites

After travelling the world picking up influences everywhere from Michelin-starred Frenchie in Paris to the iconic Noma in Copenhagen, Johnson established 1WST with Wilson as a neighborhood restaurant.

It’s situated in the Tribecca area of New York, a formerly industrial district which used to serve as the center of the textile industry.

Strong dualistic themes run through the venue. In one of the biggest cities in the world, they grow about 90% of their ingredients themselves, relying on organic produce sourced year-round from their farm up state in Columbia County, New York.

This unity of two incongruous environments spoke to us, mirroring our own approach of incorporating different ideas and themes into a unified whole.

The duality of urban and rural environments – the peacefulness of nature contrasted with a busy city thrumming with life tells its own story of a meeting of opposites.

As their com mitment to locally sourced produce demonstrates, Wilson and Johnson have established their own set of rules for what they create to ensure everything has its own quality and standards.

By challenging themselves in this way, 1WST is offering their local community the opportunity to enjoy French-inspired American cuisine that’s created in a more authentic way – a true farm-to-table experience.

The Caffeination: N’kay & Koré Coffee

Tucked down a side street in New York’s vibrant and world-famous Chinatown district, Koré Coffee stands apart, despite its compact interior that’s so typical of the city.

If a building could be a matryoshka nesting doll, Koré would fulfill the role.

Founded by a Korean following Seoulite tastes in coffee, it features a distinctly Scandinavian-influenced design, in a Chinese enclave in an American city.

Peel these layers back and at its essence, Koré is an espresso bar that blends duality with a community focus, something which is close to our hearts at Les Deux.

Koré means whale in Korean and just as the design has deeper meaning, so does the name. It’s a reference to the melancholic sound a whale makes when it calls to its pod. N’kay, the owner, wanted to create a ‘voice’ that calls to people when they’re in the neighborhood, tugging at their memories and establishing a place where the community can relax and think of home.

N’kay is originally from Seoul but was drawn to the bright lights of New York 21 years ago and has never looked back.

In Korea, coffee culture exploded in the early 2000s, and it now has almost cult status. The focus is on a pure product: the finest espresso or black coffee.

And it was this that inspired him to open Koré. It proves that duality exists in our everyday surroundings, you need but look for it. Subscribe to our newsletter for more stories.