Duane Martin Takes THR’s Taste Test

Xen Interior Duane Martin - H 2012

Xen Interior Duane Martin - H 2012

The actor-turned-restaurateur talks sweet potatoes, jerk chicken, oysters, red velvet bread pudding and more.

The development of actor Duane Martin’s passion project, a Studio City restaurant he opened near NBC-Universal in September called XEN, has already drawn the likes of Lady Gaga, Will Smith and Stevie Wonder.

Now it's going to be spoofed on the upcoming premiere season of BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood.

The show, unsurprisingly a parody of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise, finds Martin (whose wife is actress Tisha Campbell-Martin) acting as himself beside show creator Kevin Hart as well as Robin Thicke, JB Smoove, Anthony Anderson and Nick Cannon. Hart will have the group investing in Martin’s character’s spot Karma. The restaurant scenes were shot at Supperclub in Hollywood, but the upcoming wrap party for the still in-production series will be held at XEN, where the New American menu runs from jerk chicken osso buco to red velvet bread pudding.


Current Fixation
“I’ve been going to Soho House a lot recently for their roasted sweet potatoes. They’re topped with crème fraiche, chili, cilantro and sea salt.”

Known For Cooking
“I don’t cook much at all; my wife Tisha loves to cook. But my turkey chili is definitely a favorite. It’s spicy – made with beans, turkey, brown sugar and bell peppers that give it that sweet-hot blend. The chili is simple to eat and warm up. Just get a bowl and sit in front of the TV.”

Destination Dinner
“I go to Cecconi’s a lot. Love the pastas – especially when they have the fresh truffles. It’s the only place in L.A. that has truffles when no one else in L.A. does. I’d ask them to put those truffles on everything we’d order.”

Go-To Take-Out
Coley’s Jamaican. It’s a Caribbean restaurant located in North Hollywood on Magnolia. They originally had a place on La Cienega years ago, but that closed and they popped up in the Valley. It’s filled with a lot of Caribbean people. Get the jerk chicken, rice and peas, and plantains.”

Simply Won’t Eat
“Oysters: I just can’t do it.”

Favorite Snack
“Butter Pecan Häagen-Dazs – one pint at a time.”

Dietary Regimen
“Turkey and tuna. I don’t eat any other kind of meat. I’ll eat chicken once in a while. It’s because I’m eating for my blood type.”

Guilty Pleasure
“Our red velvet bread pudding, which I invented. My mom used to make bread pudding. She’d save the ends off bread until we had enough for the dish. She’d bake it with nutmeg, raisins, cinnamon. Such a treat. The red velvet part? Red velvet cake is a phenomenon. Red velvet anything!  But we don’t use dye. We make it with fresh raspberries so it’s red in a natural, tasty way. Our chef, Neil Shuman, purees the raspberries and then blends them with bread pudding mixture. Then we cover it all in a lemon cream sauce. I eat it every day.”

Last Meal
“Something cooked by my wife, Tisha. She makes a mean fried chicken and sweet potatoes — and amazing mac ‘n’ cheese! She always made them in these cupcake shapes. And actually, the mac ‘n’ cheese cupcakes on our menu are Tisha’s recipe. It’s got seven cheeses in there.”