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[Editor's Note: Bed-Stuy-based photographer Clay Williams (aka UltraClay), has a thing for documenting the work that goes into making food. Be it restaurant chefs, home cooks, butchers, bakers or brewers, Clay dedicates his work to capturing and celebrating their work. This is the first of Clay's 'Food/Work' columns for NonaBrooklyn. He'll be back every few weeks with more.]

by Clay Williams

Upon arriving arrived in New York several years ago, blogger Emily Cavalier has been enamored with the city’s huge variety of ethnic cuisines. Through her website, Mouth of the Border, she’s taken her readers on tours of the city’s many diverse neighborhoods and culinary enclaves seeking out the the best and most interesting foods they have to offer. This year, Cavalier broke the fourth wall and began inviting readers to a late-night supper club of her own - Midnight Brunch.

She recently hosted her third Midnight Brunch, this time in Williamsburg, for 30 eager eaters. The theme for Midnight Brunch #3? A culinary trip along the historic Spice Route, featuring dishes from Iran, Morocco, the West Indies and Sicily with cocktails to match. I visited Emily’s Clinton Hill home the night before the meal as she prepared a few of the dishes for the big night.

The theme for this Midnight Brunch was 'A Journey Down the Spice Route.' Dishes represented parts of the world that were historically involved in the spice trade.

The menu included two curries, a lamb curry from the east and a Jamaican-style chicken curry, which she prepared here. The West Indian curry featured a blend of turmeric, coriander, cumin, star anise, clove, black pepper, and pimento.

Finding authentic ingredients for the Jamaican curry in Clinton Hill wasn't much of a hassle. While this area of Brooklyn lacks great supermarkets, it's got plenty of small produce shops catering to West Indians and Africans.

To elevate Jamaican curry's distinctive fire, Emily uses a single scotch bonnet pepper in the chicken marinade.

The chicken marinates while she works on other dishes.

Stemming chilies for a green harissa to be used in another dish.

Slicing roasted red peppers.

Tasting preserved lemon for the harissa.

Browning the chicken.

Making small 'spinner' dumplings to go with the chicken.

Chicken and dumplings stewing on the fire.

The finished dish at Midnight Brunch.

Want to try Emily’s Jamacian Curry at home? Here’s the recipe.


Clay Williams is a Brooklyn-based photographer and blogger known online as UltraClay. He has covered food and events for Bon Appetit, Edible Manhattan and Midtown Lunch.

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2 Responses to Food/Work: Midnight Brunch – A Journey Along The Spice Route with Supper Club Hostess Emily Cavalier

  1. Love this photo spread of one of my fave intrepid foodsters! The lemon pic is just gorgeous!

  2. What a beautiful portrait of an artist at work. This is easily my favorite photo story by you Clay. Looking forward to seeing more narrative work like this….so refreshing!

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