STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The space formerly occupied by Michelin-noted Vida enters the next chapter in North Shore restaurant history. West Brighton resident Shawn-aé Dixon is the new proprietor at 381 Van Duzer Street as she takes on Shawn-aé ’s House, her inaugural brick-and-mortar food venture.
“Shawn-aé’s House is a new, first of its kind, soul food, holistic-infusion boutique,” Dixon explained. Her aim, she said, is to prepare organic, flavorful, high quality dishes with influence from the American South and around the world that collectively will heal the mind, body and soul.
“It will be a creative and ever-changing menu with a taste of home,” Dixon promised. Specialties will include mac ‘n’ cheese, fried chicken, versions of Caribbean oxtail, fried whole snapper, curry chicken and chick peas prepared with fresh ginger and thyme. Highlights also will include vegan dishes with fresh and natural seasonings.
“I want people to taste the authenticity of the dish with freshly ground herbs,” she said.
Shawn-aé’s House aspires as a gathering space for themed affairs like Poetry Night, paint-and-sip programs and grown-up chess competitions. Dixon hopes to use the dining room with its cozy nooks for private catered events and more.
“It will also be used for book club and signing events, artistic expression, galleries and shows. The infusion of creativity, great food and dope vibes will bring people together for a good time,” she said.
She and husband Jason put their whole savings into the new business, said Dixon. The decision to dive into Shaw-naé’s House came from a brush with death last September. An accident forced her into a coma from which she awoke and committed to a new path in her career.
BLESSED TO COOK
Dixon comes to the ala carte food world from “Say Grace,” her pre-pandemic catering business from which she worked as an on-premise private chef for celebrity entertainers, Major League Baseball and National Basketball teams including the The Brooklyn Nets. She established “Say Grace” after leaving the NYC Department of Education in 2014. Fueled by “crazy faith,” she said it was a tough decision to resign from rewarding work with formerly incarcerated students, then to take leap into entrepreneurship.
But she says of her food concept: “It took to the stars.” Things started happening in November, 2015 with a debut television appearance on Fox 29 Philadelphia’s “You Gotta Try This with Mike and Alley.” It ultimately led to a gig on the set of Charlamagne Tha God of iHeart’s morning show “The Breakfast Club.” From there, her catering endeavor really launched.
“I believed without a shadow of a doubt it would work,” she said, especially with her roots and spiritual commitment in the Borough of Parks.
Indeed, Dixon’s Staten Island heritage runs deep: she is both a mom of six and an eighth generation native. Her family hails from historic Sandy Ground in Rossville, an enclave established by African Americans that dates back to 1799. The two-and-a-half-acre swath of land originally was purchased in 1828 by John Jackson, the first Black property owner of the borough who became captain of the Blazing Star Ferry that ran between the South Shore and Manhattan. That service pre-dates the current shuttle services in the region.
Dixon, nee Shawn-aé Mosley, is a direct descendent of Jackson and the granddaughter of the late Lois Agusta Mosely, author of “Sandy Ground Memories” and a 1984 Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement.
Dixon says, “My legacy runs deep within the DNA of family and ancestors to always contribute to the development of community by feeding the people with love and to heal the mind, body and soul.”
A self-taught chef, Dixon describes herself as a “conscious, creative cook” who relies on the family’s West Brighton garden to create wholesome meals. The yield each year offers sweet potatoes, potatoes, collards, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant and a plethora of fresh herbs for the cooking. Dixon hopes that by Mother’s Day of 2021 she’ll be able to share some early season bounty and professionally composed meals with guests who sit down together at Shawn-aé’s House.
Dixon can be reached at 347-414-6489, through social media at @Shawnaeshouse and email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The restaurant is located at 381 Van Duzer St., Stapleton.
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