Pop star Ashanti did not have to sing for her supper on her 35th birthday, but she did have to cook lunch for herself and eight guests at a surprise party held at the Carltun in East Meadow on Tuesday.
Lured to the place by her mom, Tina Douglas, the Glen Cove native thought she was there for an "intimate family lunch," Douglas said. The big surprise? "You're cooking," Douglas told her daughter (a foodie who cooks whenever she can) as she entered the room where her sister, Kenashia, her father, Ken-Kaide, and a few friends waited.
"Oh my God," beamed a stunned Ashanti, "now that's my kind of party."
Veteran chef Rodrigo Bernal, who has created menus and meals at the upscale catering facility for some 20 years, outfitted Ashanti in a chef's toque and white jacket -- good thing, as the singer was dressed in a form-fitting pale leather dress, not to mention towering Christian Louboutin stilettos.
From there it was on to a specially designed menu comprising what the chef said was "everything she loves," which included spicy shrimp with Peruvian yellow peppers, seared yellow fin tuna with snap peas, pan-seared black sea bass with salsa verde, and bananas Foster for dessert, along with a pink-frosted cake topped with a rhinestone-studded microphone.
"She knows what she's doing," said Bernal, who made the singer taste the dishes along the way. A sauce of soy, teriyaki, ginger and spices made her eyes widen. "That is popping," she said. "It's perfect."
As for the birthday surprise, "I thought I was just going to a casual lunch with the family and was going to order off the menu," Ashanti said. "I love to cook, and now I've made my first tuna."
But, truth be told, a birthday girl can't be all about cooking and no play. She leaves on a trip to Turks and Caicos on Wednesday.