December 28, 2009 | Short Order

Kitchen Club to Mark 20th anniversary New Year’s Eve then Close


        It was a struggle being on the unchic end of Prince “east of Soho” in 1990 when Marja Samsom moved Kitchen Club into what had been Prince Donut on the corner of Mott. “As you know, I love my Kitchen Club. It began illegally as a weekly dinner party for friends in my 11th Street apartment way back in 1985."  She did a $40 prix fixe. Guests could hear the weekly menu on her answering machine and bring their own wine. 

       But once her green card came through, she was legal. She found cheap digs east of Soho and ran a one-woman show. “The rent was low. I did all the shopping. I cooked, booked the reservations. I learned so much. I loved the incredible richness of meeting and cooking for all sorts of people from all over the globe.  It was an adrenaline pump.”

       Then Balthazar landed at the corner of Crosby in 1997 and Prince was suddenly hot. In 2004 I alerted New York readers to the eccentric charm of KC and of Marja in her ruffled Japanese pinafore over shorts. Samsoe had taken the space next door as a tiny bar-holding pen for its own menu and separate entrance. For a while there was Chibi, a small plates Sake bar on Clinton Street named for her pampered French bulldog.  She was planning to market her Japanese style dumplings. (30 Prince Street. 212 274 0025)

        I raved over her delicate crumbly, raspberry-jam-filled Linzer torte. It evoked Holland for Marja. “It’s my mother in the room,” she told me.  

        Fast forward. Yesterday I got her email of surrender: “The economic challenges of the past year and a big boost in rent made me realize it’s time to move on." What will she do?  “I love cooking and teaching classes. I could audition for television, write a book.  One door opens and another closes. Love to U from Chibi who’s now 13 ½.”

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