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 ZereouÃ© says the rough game of football hardly compares to the demands of running his West African and French-inspired restaurant in New York City. “It is by far the most challenging thing I’ve done,â€ he says of ZereouÃ©, an intimate space that pipes in African rhythms and displays the cultural works of Ugandan painter John Mubiru. “It’s a 24/7 job.â€ But since ZereouÃ©’s retirement from pro football in 2005, sharing his love of food and his culture brings great satisfaction.
Originally from the Ivory Coast, ZereouÃ©, 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 country–many of which he is introducing to his patrons, like kedjenou, a richly flavored tomato-based chicken dish; and escargot sautÃ©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 attiÃ©kÃ©, a grain similar to couscous that’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.
ZereouÃ© first opened as a French restaurant, but the owner quickly realized that there was a greater opportunity: “The goal is to expose our guests to broader experiences in African culture.â€Â Â Â For more information, visit www.zereoue.com.