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Chefs JJ Johnson and Homer Murray Take Outdoor Dining to New Heights This Summer

By Emmie MurphyJul 13 2022

Summer is in full swing, and that means outdoor barbecues, holiday gatherings, and al fresco dinner parties. While summer meals can range from hot dogs on paper plates to fancy filet feasts, there are plenty of simple ways to enhance your summer dining experience. For some insider tips on how to wow guests with your entertaining skills, we turned to the experts: Chefs JJ Johnson and Homer Murray.

Host of Just Eats with Chef JJ and owner of FIELDTRIP, a fast-casual rice bowl shop at Rockefeller Center, JJ Johnson’s cuisine focuses on food from the African diaspora. Homer Murray, chef and owner of 21 Greenpoint, opening soon at Rockefeller Center, is known for his New American cuisine. Both chefs are participating in Dine at Radio Park, a summer dining series located at Radio Park, the 24,000-square-foot rooftop above Radio City Music Hall. This distinctly New York venue will be open for lunch and dinner on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout July.

For both Johnson and Murray, Radio Park presented a unique opportunity to get involved with something outside of their usual endeavors. With dazzling views, live music, and unbeatable food and drink, Dine at Radio Park is a wholly unique experience. “Who wouldn't want to have a picnic on the roof smack in the middle of Rockefeller Center?,” says Murray. “We're excited to put our sunscreen on and get up there.”

While each chef brings a distinct approach to food, they both agree that dining shouldn’t be fussy. When it comes to summer meals, Murray’s go-to is produce. “Tomatoes, corn, watermelon, cherries, red wine vinegar, basil, peaches — all the good stuff,” he says of his menu staples. Also, he adds, “Very, very cold beer.” For Johnson, rice is a cornerstone of his cooking. “There’s so much you can do,” he explains.”It’s a very versatile ingredient.” Whether you’re using leftover rice for a salad or cooking it in a cast-iron pan, it’s the perfect way to pull a dish together.

When it comes to the dining experience itself, there are a number of opportunities to have fun with it. Johnson suggests a “build-your-own-cocktail” bar. “You can make a beverage that can be alcoholic and nonalcoholic,” he explains. “You put the nonalcoholic beverage in a fun cup with straws for kids and those who don’t drink, and then I like to let people be their own personal bartender.”

Above all, be thoughtful, says Murray. “Be thoughtful about what you’re serving, where you’re serving it, and with whom.” After all, a good meal isn’t just about the food. “The vibe for me is always making people feel comfortable, whether you’re at your house, a restaurant, or place of business,” says Johnson. “As long as everybody feels comfortable, they’ll have an amazing time.”

Dine at Radio Park is open Friday to Sunday throughout the month of July for lunch and dinner. Reserve your spot today.

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