Glasserie's Sara Kramer: "I Think People Don't Want to be so Buttoned up About Food Any More"
Greenpoint came on strong in 2013: One innovative restaurant after another threw open the doors, fostering a destination-worthy culinary community with no shortage of fans despite the fact that reaching the area, at least by train, is challenging. One leader in that charge is Glasserie (95 Commercial Street, 718-389-0640), the Middle Eastern spot from Sara Conklin that packs crowds into its charming digs just a block off of the Pulaski Bridge.
Jennifer Galatioto / Greenpointers.com
Helming the kitchen there is Sara Kramer, whose culinary education started during her childhood in Nyack, New York. "My mother is Peruvian-Israeli, and my dad's from the Bronx," she explains. "We had a food-centric household. My mother was a great home cook, and so was my grandmother. Many of the things I do in the restaurant stem from them."
When she was young, though, Kramer was more concerned with the health-related aspects of food than she was with anything else: She was a musical theater performer with her sights set on Broadway, and she toured the country, working her way through the professional musical theater ranks. "I'd always focused on food from a health perspective," she explains. "It was about how to best fuel my body that was my product and how to support me as a performer."
Her interest in what she ate heightened, though, and feeling unfulfilled by performing -- and feeling charged by food activism -- she gave up the stage for NYU, where she took a number of courses on food. Eventually, she became attracted to the idea of becoming a chef -- "It was omething that was a challenge, and something that I wasn't sure how to go about," she explains. "It wasn't something many women were interested in doing -- it was hard, it was challenging, and I was told that it wasn't a woman's profession."
She landed in a culinary program and then at Blue Hill Stone Barns for an externship, where she stayed three or four months beyond her requisite 10-day stint until she landed a permanent spot on the line. "I'm persistent," she says with a laugh. "I know what I want. There's no way to get by in this industry if you don't have a backbone." After nearly two years at both of Dan Barber's spots, she moved over to Andrew Tarlow's restaurants, where she added butchery and high-volume kitchen experience to her resume.
Shortly after she took over the executive sous chef role at Reynard, mutual friends introduced Kramer to Conklin, who was looking for a chef for her new concept. "It became painfully obvious that it was a really good match," Kramer says; the duo shared a common vision, and they forged ahead to open Glasserie in June of last year.
In this interview, she talks about a gap in the New York restaurant industry, how her personal food philosophy plays out in her restaurant, and her goals.