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Brit Jenny Clarke came to Hell’s Kitchen for three months – and has stayed for over 30 years! She is founder of the Melodia Women’s Choir and Executive Director of the National Flute Association. This is Jenny’s West Side Story.

Jenny Clarke has lived in Hell’s Kitchen since 1991. Photo: Phil O’Brien

So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I’m originally from England. I came to New York in 1991 to conduct a research project funded by the Arts Council of England on arts management New York-style. I was based at the Women’s Project theatre company and the Public Theatre. I didn’t go back to England when I completed my three-month assignment. I loved New York so much, particularly the energy, the ubiquitous culture, the weather and the food! For my initial visit, a friend found a posting for a sublet on W46th between 9th and 10th Avenues, and I’ve lived in Hell’s Kitchen ever since in several different locations. I now live one block north of my original spot, on W47th between 9th and 10th. 

What was your first job? What do you do now?
My first job was in administration at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London. After that, I spent several years working at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Now, I run a women’s choir I founded 20 years ago called Melodia Women’s Choir. We recently presented our 20th Anniversary concert at Holy Apostles Church, Chelsea, and were honored that Council Member Erik Bottcher came and presented a Proclamation honoring our musical contributions for the past 20 years. (The performance is going to be broadcast on June 17 on YouTube in a virtual concert). I’m also the Executive Director of the National Flute Association, serving 4,000 flutists in 28 countries – including some in Hell’s Kitchen. The National Flute Association has offices in Chicago but operations HQ is in my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, where I work remotely.

What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
Walking with Little Amal and the Brazilian women’s drumming group across the Brooklyn Bridge was a high spot last summer.

Jenny Clarke on Brooklyn Bridge with Amal.
Jenny Clarke on the Brooklyn Bridge with Little Amal. Photo supplied

Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I love being in the heart of everything! Seeing Hell’s Kitchen constantly evolve is a huge thrill – restaurants come and go, arts institutions pop up, others disappear, communities settle in, others transition away. Not knowing quite what to expect when I walk out the door is constantly invigorating. And the arts are everywhere, from street musicians to the Met — all different styles and genres of music from all over the world! All the outdoor performances during the summer are a real treat. Being steps from Broadway and Off-Broadway in one direction and the Hudson River in the other is something I cherish.

What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I’m a good problem solver. I find solutions to all kinds of dilemmas. In the arts, pivoting became a key factor during the pandemic and I did a lot of that.

What else should we know about you?
I love to explore all parts of the City, and Hell’s Kitchen is a great starting point since you can get everywhere from here really easily without a car. Some favorites are the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx; PS1, the Queens Museum and the US Tennis Center in Queens; BAM, the Brooklyn Museum, Brighton Beach, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and Governors Island.

Jenny’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places

Delphinium Home — 353 W47th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
The owners are fabulous and I can always find unique gifts and cards.

Mee Noodle Shop — 795 9th Avenue (bw W52/53rd St)
All kinds of noodles and more, nice people, casual set-up – a Hell’s Kitchen staple. A good place to take out-of-town visitors who want to escape the tourist spots.

Jenny Clarke at Mee Noodles
Jenny at Mee Noodle on 9th Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

MéMé — 607 10th Avenue (corner of W44th St)
Mediterranean and Moroccan-inspired cuisine in a relaxed but lively atmosphere. Good vegetarian options.

The Marshal — 628 10th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
Delicious farm-to-table food from a wood-burning oven. I ordered a pizza every week during the pandemic to help support the restaurant during hard times – plus the pizzas are delicious.

Nizza — 630 9th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
Cool vibe and a good place for brunch. Modern Italian dishes – Socca, a crispy chickpea pancake cooked in a brick oven is a favorite. There are many gluten free and vegetarian options. 

Ariana Afghan Restaurant — 787 9th Avenue (bw W52/53rd St)
This place has a cozy, casual vibe. Unique dishes. Owners are wonderful.

Clinton Community Garden — 434 W48th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Green and serene.

Jenny received a proclamation from CM Erik Bottcher
Jenny received a Proclamation from Council Member Erik Bottcher after 20 years of the Melodia Women’s Choir. Photo supplied

39th Street Ferry Terminal — at 12th Avenue
I like to take the NYC ferry to Battery Park, meet friends, stroll around and then take the ferry back again. Sometimes I stay on the ferry and go on to Staten Island and then take the bus to Snug Harbor to visit the art museum and gardens.

Hudson River Park — 555 12th Avenue
A great place to bike and walk, check out the tourists, the boats, and the New Yorkers chilling out. I also enjoy some public art and live music in the summer. Every year there seem to be more open spaces and greenery.

You can follow Jenny on Twitter @JennyClarke6. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form —

You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.

Join the Conversation


  1. Boy, did I fall down a rabbit hole on this one. I didn’t know you could take the ferry to so many places and ended up looking at all the stops and all the restaurants and places to visit at each stop. Thanks, Jenny!

  2. Great profile! Jenny’s enthusiasm, energy, creativity, rich cultural life, and devotion to NYC come blazing through! And Melodia, Jenny’s brainchild, is absolutely wonderful. Thank you for training your lens on such a fantastic gift to New York…Jenny and Melodia!

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