The chef and model Roze Traore has checked the big-name boxes in New York City that lead to prominence in his dual professions.
Mr. Traore’s résumé includes stints at Eleven Madison Park and the restaurant at the NoMad Hotel. He’s worked as a private chef for high-profile clients, including the Soho House, a private club in Manhattan’s meatpacking district, and last year he catered the Guggenheim International Gala. His modeling career has landed him gigs with Cole Haan and Louis Vuitton.
Now, he’s headed to the West African nation of Ivory Coast, where he’s opened a boutique hotel and restaurant in a palm-tree-lined beach resort area called Grand-Bassam.
“I want to make another contribution to the beautiful things in this country,” Mr. Traore said. “I want to change people’s perspective.”
For years, tourism across Francophone Africa appealed largely to French retirees who clung to lazy days at big resorts on azure coastlines. But Mr. Traore’s hotel, La Fourchette de Roze, opens at a time when a new audience of young Americans and other Westerners is being lured to the region by top-notch surf breaks and fashion festivals in Senegal and art shows in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and beyond.
Mr. Traore, 31, who was born in Washington, D.C., and whose parents are Ivorian, spent part of his childhood in Ivory Coast. The country is bouncing back after the pandemic slowed tourism and from the taint of a deadly terrorist attack seven years ago. Tourists are again arriving in Grand-Bassam, drawn to its fishing culture, colonial architecture and laid-back beach vibe.
“It feels so incredibly natural to open my first establishment on this land where my ancestors settled and to be surrounded by so many resources,” said Mr. Traore, who was on site this month to put the finishing touches on the Jan. 19 grand opening, including installing the first of what he expects to be a rotating exhibition of local artists.
Mr. Traore is passionate about style, whether in the form of food, fashion or art. I first met him four years ago at a gallery opening for the artist Kehinde Wiley, who has started his own ventures in the region with an artist residency in Dakar, Senegal’s capital. On a recent drizzly day in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Traore spoke to me about his new project as he peered out over the East River from a perch at the elegant private club Casa Cipriani.
Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
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