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Helena Christensen Comes to ‘Gritty’ East Village For Fashion Week, Stays For the Boutiques

Chef Paul Gerard outside Exchange AlleyMelvin Felix Chef Paul Gerard before the opening of
Exchange Alley.

Even during Fashion Week, the sight of chauffeurs idling just a half-block from Avenue A is an unexpected one. But when Exchange Alley opened last month, chef-owner Paul Gerard said he wanted it to be “a place for creatives to exchange ideas,” and that’s what it was last night, as actor Josh Hartnett, director Paul Haggis, and other bold-face types mingled at a dinner party for Vs. Magazine, hosted by Liv Tyler.

At a back table, supermodel and avid photographer Helena Christensen sat across from nightlife impresario Nur Khan and Michael Stipe of REM, who wore a serious pair of horned-rims.

Ms. Christensen, a West Village resident, said she wanted to make it over to the east side more often. “I love the West Village because it reminds me of European villages, but the East Village is so gritty and so real and so New York,” she told The Local. Read more…

Inside Exchange Alley: New Orleans Flair from an Employees Only Owner

Back in June, Paul Gerard, the chef who took over the short-lived Zi’Pep space on Ninth Street, told us he would open Exchange Alley with Billy Gilroy, a partner in West Village hotspot Employees Only. So what does “New York with a New Orleans flair” look like? Watch our video of yesterday’s opening night festivities to find out.

Yesterday Mr. Gerard, who was a chef in New Orleans before most recently serving as chef of Soho House, said he would be preparing a frequently changing menu using, in part, ingredients from a backyard garden that he hoped would be used by local schoolchildren. “Some days I’m enamored with pasta, other days I’m enamored with tomatoes,” he said. “By the time the tomato season is just about over, I’ll be enamored with root vegetables and game.” The bar, backed by mirror-finished stainless steel, will serve beer-and-wine cocktails till 2 a.m. on weekends.

The walls are decorated with photos of some of Mr. Gerard’s creative inspirations, including downtowners like Lou Reed and Miguel Piñero. The chef is hoping to tap into the new make-up of the neighborhood, which has changed a lot since his younger days living in Alphabet City. Read more…