Chatting with Catherine May About the Expansion and Evolution of her Fort Greene Farm-to-Table Trailblazer, iCi

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Brooklyn Magazine's Sarah Zorn about the recent expansion and evolution of ICI into Maison May. Read on:

“There is no way home — Home is the way.”

This is the quote (taken from Buddhist activist Thich Nhat Hanh) that helped serve as catalyst for a major shakeup at Fort Greene’s seminal local-seasonal eatery, iCi, after owner Catherine May stumbled upon it back in 2013. “I’m from France, but I don’t have many roots left there. I was literally uprooted. I got married, and that marriage ended. And then I was living in Red Hook when Hurricane Sandy happened,” meditated May. “But what I first began to realize, as I was standing in the street with my two suitcases and two boys, is that I didn’t need anything else. That I AM a home. I’m a home for myself and I’m a home for those boys.”

“And I think the feelings I had then–perfectly articulated by the quote that I discovered later–was a starting point of understanding that I have that in me,” she continued, “the ability to bring people home.”

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Maison May: Redefining Success

It is 10am on a Tuesday.

The early morning crowd has wound down (we open at 8am) and I am sitting at one of the long communal table with a tea pot of Cloud & Mist, the newspaper spread in front of me.

Lhasa is playing in the background and the morning light feels luscious. By the big windows that are overlooking Maison May Dekalb garden, I can see the trees gently rocking.

I turn around just in time to spot Lily strolling down Vanderbilt. She looks up and waves at Brit, our morning server & me.
A few minutes later Jonathan rushes out of the building next door.  He looks tense. I imagine he is (as usual) late for work…

 

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Brooklyn In 2015: Building, Consuming & Throwing It All Away

Walking down Smith Street last week, I was once again struck by a sight that has become all too common in Brooklyn: between Atlantic Avenue and Union Street, a span of roughly 10 blocks, there are at least two or three empty commercial spaces per block, all with  “for rent” signs in the windows. A lot of these spaces have been vacant for well over a year, because the rents being demanded are unsustainable for any small business.

At the same time, my friends in Paris are going crazy over the latest exhibit at the very “à la modeBon Marché store and gallery. Their theme this month is, of course, Brooklyn. The exhibit confirms once again what we all know: Our borough is the trendiest destination in the world right now.

How can such a dichotomy happen?

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