When Keanu Reeves surfaced at Euphoria, a four-day food festival in Greenville, South Carolina, alongside three-star Michelin chef Curtis Duffy, a few questions arose, the most pressing one being: Why is Neo/John Wick/Ted Logan/Johnny Utah attending a food event in the Carolinas? It turns out he was speaking with Duffy at Michelin’s North America headquarters, located in Greenville, on their mutual admiration of food and the international tire brand. (Some relevant background: Reeves, in partnership with Gard Hollinger, owns an exotic motorcycle company called Arch Motorcycle.)
The tire company is the same Michelin that rates restaurants by one, two and three stars, and the very same organization that connected Reeves and Duffy at the beginning of 2017 at a Pilot Sport 4S tire release in Palm Springs. “I knew that Reeves had built motorcycles with his partner, Gard,” Duffy said, prior to their first meeting. “That was always of interest to me. When I knew he was coming out there, I wasn’t star struck because of who he was. It was more about, I want to know this guy because of the motorcycle side.”
Reeves and Duffy’s friendship quickly evolved over their shared interests: motorcycles and food. “He’s super passionate about motorcycles, and I’m super passionate about motorcycles,” Duffy says. “I don’t build them, but I can respect it and understand what goes into it because my father used to do it.”
It was Duffy’s third year at Euphoria and his second year of making the 14-hour trek from Chicago to Greenville on his motorcycle. In the midst of preparing for a highly-anticipated Michelin dinner and “Healthy Lunchtime Throwdown” (an annual kids cooking competition) at Euphoria, Duffy managed to sneak away with Reeves, Gard and Arch’s Heath Cofran for a picturesque bike ride through the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.
The next day, a Michelin dinner at The Lazy Goat showcased the food of Duffy, Dominique Crenn and Michael Mina. It was here that the bike and dining connection started to make sense. Each bite of the dinner promised something new and unexpected: a rice paper chip for crunch, Vietnamese herbs for flavor, Japanese Miyazaki beef so tender that it melted in your mouth. Each ingredient contributed to the overall dining experience, just like technical components make up the anatomy of a quality bike.
A brief one-on-one with Reeves backed this up: High end components are to Arch bikes as quality ingredients are to Duffy’s creations. “It’s making sure we keep the integrity of the dish,” Duffy says, when cooking outside of Grace in Chicago. “If we’re going to do it, we’re going to bring Grace to the restaurant we’re cooking in. What you experienced tonight [at the Lazy Goat] is exactly what you’d see at Grace.”