How Smorgasburg Founders Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler Built One of the Biggest Small Business Incubators in NYC

Categories: Chef Interviews

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John von Pamer/Berg'n
Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby
The credit for Brooklyn's status as an international brand may belong to many players, but few represent and commodify the borough quite like Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler. This is the duo behind the Brooklyn Flea, Smorgasburg, and, now, Berg'n (899 Bergen Street, Brooklyn; 718-857-2337) in Crown Heights, a collection of projects that has given their company the platform to serve as an incubator for Brooklyn brands that, thanks to the pair's involvement and vote of confidence, grow and spread, perpetuating the influence of Kings County.

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Meat Market: Pat LaFrieda Reflects on Four Generations of Butchery

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Nick Solares
When I meet Pat LaFrieda for lunch, I'm thrown for a moment. This man, part of the family behind Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, is perhaps the best-known butcher in the country (or at least, in our part of the country), supplier of beef to the the city's top restaurants, and creator of hamburger blends that sometimes command more attention than the restaurants that serve them. But he doesn't look like a butcher. He's tall and fit, and in his blue collared button down and (presumably) expensive jeans, he looks more like the type of executive who's become accustomed to playing by his own rules.

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On the (Willow) Road With Chef Kevin Chojnowski

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Paul Wagtouicz
When Kevin Chojnowski was 10 years old, he worked on a local farm, picking strawberries, beans, and peas. It was his first dip into the food world, but it made a lasting impression -- by 15, he was waiting tables and helping in the kitchen, prepping and washing dishes, at a nearby restaurant. When he enrolled in a vocational center for high school, he decided to try the culinary program, forsaking the engineering classes he'd thought he wanted.

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Why You Should Go Dine in Westchester, Per Martha Stewart

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Adam Robb

Before hungry revelers at the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival braved wet sand to sample ample mouthfuls of Martha Stewart's impolite blue cheese and raw onion sliders, America's mogul hostess sat above the fray inside Caesars, setting down her Scala straw hat long enough to discuss the abundance of celebrity chefs and patrons currently buzzing around the Westchester dining scene.

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Farm to City: How Polo Dobkin's Meadowsweet Channels the Countryside and the Mediterranean

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Evan Sung
When Polo Dobkin and his wife, Stephanie Lempert, opened their restaurant Meadowsweet (149 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718-384-0673) in South Williamsburg earlier this year, it was something of a homecoming: Dobkin had helped open the Dressler in the same address in 2006, building on a small Williamsburg fiefdom that also included Dumont and Dumont Burger. Those were good years -- he worked with the group for a decade, and he and Stephanie met when they both worked at Dumont. Making their first foray into ownership at a place that held personal significance provided a nice, fairy tale-like twist to their journey.

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Why Morimoto's Erik Battes Is an Iron-Willed Chef

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Paulo Salud
Morimoto (88 Tenth Avenue, 212-989-8883) executive chef Erik Battes tackles questions efficiently and articulately, his gaze never wandering, his answer never straying from the point, not even to embellish that point with more details. It takes about three exchanged sentences to understand that he's intense, focused, and driven, a perception he confirms when he reveals that he became a sous chef at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Perry St when he was 22 years old -- and chef de cuisine when he was 24 -- and when he says he loves Japanese food for the diligence and commitment engrained in its culture.

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Meet Ariane Daguin, the Woman Behind Some of the City's Finest Meats

Categories: Chef Interviews

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D'Artagnan
In the mid-1980s, Ariane Daguin, then working at a charcuterie purveyor, went to upstate New York to sign a contract with a farm that would allow the market to begin carrying American-raised foie gras. The trip fell apart, and her bosses opted out of making the deal. And at that moment, the Gascony native decided it was time to step out from behind the people who'd trained her for five years and launch her own business.

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Reappearing Act: Michael Citarella's Journey to the Kitchen at the Monarch Room

Categories: Chef Interviews

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The Monarch Room
Several years into a career that included stops through storied kitchens like Daniel, Tabla, and Lespinasse, and then a role commanding the back of the house at Freeman's, Michael Citarella disappeared, exiting the industry altogether, it seemed, back in 2009.

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Cheesecake Boss: Alan Rosen Recounts Three Generations of Junior's History

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Junior's via Facebook
Alan Rosen, left, with his father and mayor Bloomberg
Sixty-four years ago, Junior's (386 Flatbush Avenue Extension, Brooklyn, 718-852-5257) owner Alan Rosen's grandfather Harry decided he was going to open a restaurant that served great cheesecake. So he went to a number of restaurants lauded for their baked goods, bought cakes, and took them to his baker, Eigel Peterson, to experiment. The pair tinkered with crust and consistency, eventually settling on a recipe that's still used at Junior's today, four decades after the Voice first declared it the best cheesecake in the city. "We're not just a restaurant, we're an institution," Rosen says. "I take that responsibility quite seriously."

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Jesse Schenker: "This Is Not a Career, It's a Livelihood"

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Melissa Hom
That Jesse Schenker's cookbook collection is more than 350 volumes deep is not so much a reflection of his use of recipes at it is a window into his utter obsession with food--he thinks about his craft constantly, even when he's not at work, and he has since he was very young. The chef grew up in South Florida, and he relished time in the kitchen with his grandmother and great grandmother, who, he says, cooked constantly. His own mother was less culinarily inclined, but when she noticed Schenker's enthusiasm, she began setting him up with a little mat chopping vegetables anytime she was preparing a meal.

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