To mark his collaboration with D’Usse XO cognac and the upcoming Lunar New Year, Humberto Leon invited an intimate crowd to a festive dinner at Chinatown restaurant Casino on Thursday night.
“I’ve always been a fan of D’Usse, even before this, because growing up in an Asian household, you’re always bringing cognac to supper,” said Leon during cocktail hour, which offered up several cognac-based drinks. Leon had designed a red envelope to accompany limited-edition bottles of D’Usse XO, which pay homage to the Year of the Dragon. At dinner, each guest was gifted one of the red envelopes, which contained a cocktail recipe and a one-dollar bill.
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“The tradition is we put a tangerine or citrus fruit with the envelope in our pillow to really bring in the good luck for the new year,” Leon told the crowd, which included Claire Danes, David Byrne, Chloe Flower, Jessica Wang, and Oscar Nñ. “So I’m excited for you guys to all take a piece of that home.”
Although hosted at Casino, run by longtime friends of Leon’s, the dinner was curated by Los Angeles restaurant Chifa 國偉, which is owned by his family. His mother and brother-in-law John Liu run the kitchen, and his sister serves as chief executive officer. They opened the restaurant three years ago, “really as a family venture, telling the story of our origins of immigrating from Hong Kong to Peru to Los Angeles,” said Leon. “So the story of our restaurant is something we really love and get to share all the time in our home, and we decided to bring that to everybody.”
“Part of how I even started was cooking for [Leon’s] fashion shows along with his mother,” said chef Liu. “The Chinese New Year is all about family and food,” he added. “What’s even more special is that we get to come to New York, and have a chance to go to someone else’s venue and meet different people, and share the experience and our food.”
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