THE ROOM: The Kitchen with Felipe Donnelly & Tamy Rofe of Colonia Verde

  • Written By: Meredith Spencer
  • Images: Evan Sung
  • File Under: Life
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Sobremesa—it’s one of those colloquialisms that there’s no word in English for. Literally it translates to “to top the table,” but it means so much more. “It’s the conversation you have after you eat,” explains Tamy Rofe. “You can measure how good a dinner was by the sobremesa and how long it was. The longer it is, the better the party.”

As co-founders of Colonia Verde, Tamy and her husband Felipe Donnelly, know a thing or two about throwing a great party. The Latin American restaurant is beloved in Brooklyn for wood-fire grilled meats, a gorgeous greenhouse dining room and its convivial spirit. At home with Felipe and Tamy—who head the team at Colonia Verde as executive chef and wine director, respectively—it’s a simpler affair, but every detail is just as thoughtfully considered.

The couple have shared many a sobremesa with family and friends around the modern pine table at the heart of their kitchen. As you enter their bright and airy home in Brooklyn’s historic Waterfront neighborhood, the table is one of the first things you see when you walk in the door.

“It's safe to say that almost every single apartment has been decided based on the kitchen,” says Felipe of apartment hunting in New York’s notoriously idiosyncratic living spaces. “We’d see beautiful apartments…but the kitchen table wouldn’t fit, so forget it.”

Interior of Colonia Verde

 

 

 

Entertaining is a family tradition for Felipe and Tamy, who both spent parts of their youth growing up in Mexico. “It’s such a part of Mexican culture—to just have people over all the time,” says Tamy. “Your home is for everybody. You constantly have people all the time.”

The table holds many memories for the couple—both personal and professional. Eight years ago, Felipe and Tamy began hosting a weekly supper club, Worth Kitchen, at this very table. Word of mouth spread quickly—the meals (and the sobremesa) resonated not just with their circle of friends, but with friends of friends, and even complete strangers hoping to score a spot at the table. They had the start of something special. The pair took their passion project to the next level, eventually leaving their day jobs in advertising to open Cómodo in SoHo. Colonia Verde followed in 2014, as well as the launch of Comparti, a catering company that brings the party directly to the people.

Entertaining is a family tradition for Felipe and Tamy, who both spent parts of their youth growing up in Mexico. “It’s such a part of Mexican culture—to just have people over all the time,” says Tamy. “Your home is for everybody. You constantly have people all the time.”

“All the time and till four in the morning,” Felipe adds with a laugh. “If there’s anything that our family gave us—it was the art of entertaining. How to have people over and how to be hospitable.” They both have fond memories of their parents entertaining late into the night and falling asleep to the sounds of a happy party.

 

The elements to a happy party are simple. “Keep it casual so people feel comfortable,” says Tamy. “You want to have really good food and really good wine.” And good music, of course. Tamy gravitates towards jazz and seventies jams—Ramones, Patti Smith and Fleetwood Mac all share space in her record collection—while Felipe’s taste skews towards more electronic acts. The happy medium between two tastes? “LCD Soundsystem,” they agree almost simultaneously. Dinners at home recall stripped down versions of Colonia Verde’s Latin-inflected menu: seasonal veggies, curries with a Mexican twist, fresh pasta and of course, lots of rib eyes.

Weekends in the kitchen are a wind down from the busy week. “It’s our ritual,” says Tamy of Sunday mornings. The Sunday ritual can mean pancakes or avocado toast or eggs and bacon—but no matter what’s on the menu, it always means family time at the table for Tamy and Felipe and their seven-month-old son and four-year-old daughter. “There is always a congregation around the kitchen,” says Felipe. “It’s the point of entertaining and a magnet for bringing the family together.”

Patio of Colonia Verde

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