In today’s hospitality industry, unique experiences are at the forefront of customer’s minds when it comes to spending their time of leisure. However, the best unique experiences come from unique individuals. Enter Chef Roze Traore, famous model-turned-chef who started his culinary career in Michelin starred restaurants in New York City and then began catering private events for celebrities such as Rick Owens, Lupita Nyongo, and the late Michael K. WIlliams. He has now embarked on providing experiences of his own through La Fourchette de Roze. As the son of immigrants from Africa’s Ivory Coast, La Fourchette de Roze is a resort in his parent’s home country that celebrates the arts and culture of his people and all of Africa. His hotel concept provides handpicked artists with a residency to create art alongside artists from various African countries, while showcasing his culinary talents to visitors from around the world.

Travel Noire recently had a chance to speak to Roze about how travel led him to build La Fourchette de Roze and what he’s looking to accomplish by providing a platform for his food and African artists.

Photo Credit: Nuits Balnéaires

TN: Your life has been full of remarkable transitions. You were a famous model, then became one of the most sought-after chefs in New York City, and now you’ve embarked on a new journey, opening a hotel in your parent’s homeland in West Africa’s Ivory Coast. Could you tell us what inspired you to open your own resort? Could you share with us how proud your family must be of a project of this magnitude?

Roze Traore: What inspired me to open my hotel back home is that I felt it was time to pay homage back to my roots. Everything that I’ve learned throughout my career I really wanted to bring back. The motherland has so much to offer, and going back to expand my knowledge and give back was important. The country is super resourceful, and I just want to contribute in my own way. Setting the tone for something new, fresh & vibrant. As for my family, they are very happy to see my vision come to life and the fact that I’m showing off Cote d’Ivoire through my lens to the world.

TN: Could you tell us how your modeling and chef experience traveling the world at a young age contributed to your becoming a chef?

RT: It has expanded my knowledge of different communities and how to quickly adapt to settings that I may not be familiar with. It has exposed me to different cultures and ingredients, which sparks my curiosity. Throughout all these experiences, I’ve been able to push myself and my craft to greater limits.

TN: You’ve worked for a few prestigious locations in New York such as Eleven Madison Park and The Nomad, and you’ve had some very high-profile clients. Could you share with us what elements you pay the most attention to when providing a Chef Roze dining experience? What do you feel sets you apart from others?

RT: The element I pay most attention to is how I can highlight my dishes to the fullest. Paying attention to the smallest details while still sharing my vision within the theme that the guest desires. It’s always exciting to find ways to spark my guest palette. I love curating, and I love the boutique approach. Every project is unique and specially curated for that specific guest.

TN: Tell us about the hotel, what inspired you to create such a fantastic piece of real estate, what were the influences behind La Fourchette? What can our readers expect when they visit your hotel?

Photo Credit: Roze Traore

RT: Merging food, fashion and art is a special thing to me because I wanted the hotel to be the meeting ground for creatives within those worlds to feel welcome when they enter the hotel. It’s a sense of freedom and letting go while still getting the full Ivorian experience. Simplicity is key, and I just let the energy and work speak for itself.

TN: Now that your hotel, La Fourchette de Roze, is close to four months old, what can you say has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far about the hospitality business that you weren’t aware of before?

RT: I would say more patience. Yes, my roots are from the Cote d’Ivoire but it was honestly still a culture shock starting a hospitality business. I really had to adapt and get grounded with the way things worked on that side and adjust my creative approach. Whether that would be from cooking to training the front-of-the-house staff. Really having them understand the standard we are going for and how they should always remain high.

Photo Credit: Roze Traore

TN: At La Fourchette, you created an Artist In Residency program featuring artists from all parts of Africa. Could you tell us how this idea came about and what’s been the feedback so far from patrons of your hotel?

RT: The feedback has been so welcoming. Unfortunately, regardless of how talented you are, if you don’t have opportunities or resources, it makes it 10 times harder for you to share your love and passion with the world.

I’ve been able to move forward in my career because I was hungry for it and was blessed with the opportunity. That is the reason why I started the artist residency because it was my way of saying that if you have that spark and magic in you, I am willing to help in any way I can. Whatever I can do for you to create that next masterpiece, I’m here for it. Whether providing flights, accommodation, material and studio space within the hotel. This is all backed by me, and it’s a curated experience that I want my guest to witness. We finished the first residency program highlighting 3 amazing artists Terence Ntsako, Victor Olaoye and David Olaytoye. The next Residency will take place in August which I plan on having an all-female program.

Photo Credit: Roze Traore

TN: Since La Fourchette is still a very new project, would there be any opportunities in the near future for our readers in the States to experience Chef Roze’s menu? How often do you travel back and forth between the U.S. and West Africa?

RT: They most definitely will be able to, and the opportunities are endless. In fact, we’ve already had many New Yorkers and Europeans come by and enjoy the full experience. My schedule as of now is going to Cote D’Ivoire every two months. I created a special menu highlighting both gastro and Ivorian flavors/techniques.  

TN: Lastly, what does Chef Roze consider his best entree of all time?

RT: One of my staple dishes is a dry-aged beef ribeye with chanterelle mushrooms, pomme puree and a truffle jus. This is a dish that has been tried by a good amount of my guests and it is something I will always suggest. It’s simple yet classic and rich.