The Full Story
Dre Perrin and Tonza Houston
Dre’s family is originally from the south and he grew up eating soul food. He always had a deep love for soul food but felt the need to stop eating it after he watched his grandparent’s health deteriorate. His grandfather was from Whitmire, South Carolina and he ate soul food from the “traditional old south”. After years of unhealthy eating he suffered from two heart attacks and eventually had to have triple bypass surgery. As time went on Dre yearned for the taste of soul food without preservatives and unhealthy ingredients. Dre expressed his love for soul food and desire to eat healthier soul food to his childhood friend, Chef Carlos Swepson. Chef Carlos Swepson is a renowned chef and owner of Blvd Bistro on Frederick Douglas Blvd in Harlem.
He’s been featured on Good Day NY, (list other achievements). Chef Carlos explained to Dre different ways to achieve the authentic taste without all of the preservatives and unhealthy ingredients. After speaking with Chef Carlos, Dre was so excited he immediately called Tonza and said, “I have an awesome idea! We need to open a healthy, authentic soul food restaurant.” Tonza was ecstatic about the idea of opening a restaurant.
She developed a love for soul food at a very young age. Tonza is Caribbean and grew up eating primarily Caribbean food. She always dreamt about opening a soul food restaurant. She lived in West Orange, NJ for 13 years and struggled to find authentic soul food. Tonza immediately began looking around Montclair for the perfect location. Chef Carlos was also excited because he initially wanted to open a soul food restaurant in Montclair but instead decided to open his restaurant in Harlem. Dre and Tonza found their location on Bloomfield Ave and spent many hours crafting a soul food menu to hold true to their vision… Healthy, Transparent and Authentic.
Note from the Owners: “Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. Our dream and goal is to bring healthy, authentic soul food to the suburbs in a chic and inviting atmosphere” -Dre and Tonza.
Born in Natchez Mississippi and raised in Englewood, NJ, Executive Chef Carlos Swepson’s love and passion for cooking was ignited at an early age. His style of cooking developed out of his vast culture, and became a fusion between Creole Southern cuisine and traditional American flare.Chef Carlos has expertise and a love of the restaurant industry that spans for more than 20 years.
After graduating from The Art Institute of NYC in 2003 with a degree in Culinary Arts and restaurant Management, Chef Carlos had the pleasure of working under the tutelage of Executive Chef Jean George Vongerichtem at JoJo Restaurant of New York City.In 2004, Chef Carlos began working at famed Irish boutique hotel, the Fitzpatrick Manhattan. During his seven year tenure there he quickly moved up the ranks from Line Cook to Sous Chef, and then finally Executive Chef.Then in 2012, Carlos continued to challenge himself and soon accepted a position at the posh members-only club the Soho House in New York City’s popular meat packing district. That same year he launched his private event catering company.
Two years later Chef Carlos Swepson followed his ultimate dream, and became the owner and Executive Chef of Blvd Bistro in a revived historical section of Harlem, NY.His dynamic Southern-inspired menu features his personal family favorites: jumbo shrimp and grits, pan-fried chicken, and his signature buttermilk biscuits known as the best biscuits in town.During its inaugural year, Blvd Bistro was chosen by the New York Times as a “Critic’s Pick”. The publication also complimented Chef Carlos by stating, “Chef Carlos simply makes everything taste better”.Chef Carlos continues to utilize his exemplary talents and keen business attributes to revolutionize the future of Blvd Bistro and its growing brand.