Having been bumped and bruised throughout his seven-year career as an NFL running back for teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots, Amos ZereouĂ© says the rough game of football hardly compares to the demands of running his West African and French-inspired restaurant in New York City. â€śIt is by far the most challenging thing Iâ€™ve done,â€ť he says of ZereouĂ©, an intimate space that pipes in African rhythms and displays the cultural works of Ugandan painter John Mubiru. â€śItâ€™s a 24/7 job.â€ť But since ZereouĂ©â€™s retirement from pro football in 2005, sharing his love of food and his culture brings great satisfaction.
Originally from the Ivory Coast, ZereouĂ©, 33, migrated to the United States at ageÂ 10 with his family. Both of his parents enjoyed cooking the traditional warm, spicy, stew-based dishes of his countryâ€”many of which he is introducing to his patrons, like kedjenou, a richly flavored tomato-based chicken dish; and escargot sautĂ©ed in African rum and spices. They are among the variety of seafood and poultry offerings on his lunch and dinner menus. Many specialties are served with vegetables, rice, or attiĂ©kĂ©, a grain similar to couscous thatâ€™s served in a small mound and traditionally pounded with a spoon so it more easily absorbs sauces from the main dish. Guests also enjoy Kenyan beer, South African wines, and Starr African Rum from the island of Mauritius.
ZereouĂ© first opened as a French restaurant, but the owner quickly realized that there was a greater opportunity: â€śThe goal is to expose our guests to broader experiences in African culture.â€ťÂ Â Â For more information, visit www.zereoue.com.