Kitchen Lifer: After More Than 30 Years, Ed Brown Is Still Going Strong

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Philip Greenberg
Chef Ed Brown would like you to know that you can eat dinner at Lincoln Center even if you're not there to catch a show. For the last several months, the longtime restaurateur and the company he works for, Restaurant Associates, have been working on Lincoln Center Kitchen, a "pet project," he says, that represents a divergence from the types of concepts that have long filled Avery Fisher. "We've done several different things in the Lincoln Center Kitchen space," he says. "But they've all been Italian or Italian-American. We wanted something different. Decoration-wise, you can't do a lot there, so that was gonna have to happen with the menu. We decided to start by not being Italian in any fashion. We said, let's just be American. Let's serve great food that people want to eat and buy, priced reasonably, and served with great hospitality. It sounds simple, but it's not so easy to pull off."

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Daily Bread: How Bien Cuit Is Shaking Up the Baking Industry

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©Jean Granick, courtesy Bien Cuit
I'm following Zach Golper through his U-shaped wholesale bakery in Sunset Park, learning about how Bien Cuit mixes, ferments, and bakes its bread and pastries, when he drops a recommendation that shatters everything I thought I knew about eating bread. "Don't eat bread fresh out of the oven," he says. "Let it sit and cool, so that the gas dissipates into the crumb and locks in the scent and aroma." Some breads are even better on day two, he says, when the crust is no longer crackly. I press him and his wife/business partner, Kate Wheatcroft, further about how they enjoy bread, and they tell me to tear hunks off the loaf ("Don't slice," says Golper) and eat them with a little cultured butter.

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Back to Cali: Justin Smillie Explores a New Kind of Golden State Cuisine

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Courtesy Upland
Decades after Wolfgang Puck and Alice Waters and a slew of other chefs opened restaurants built on fresh produce and a confluence of global flavors, thereby pioneering California cuisine, the Golden State is experiencing a culinary comeback in New York City. Jeremiah Tower, a longtime West Coast chef and mentee of Waters, came here to take on the troubled Tavern on the Green; Jonathan Waxman, another former Waters lieutenant, is reprising Jams; and last year, Stephen Starr teamed up with chef Justin Smillie to open Upland (345 Park Avenue South, 212-686-1006), a modern meditation on what the chef ate growing up in Southern California.

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'Balls Deep: The Meatball Shop Owners Reflect on Five Years in Business

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Melissa Hom
In five short years, Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman have laid the foundation for what looks certain to eventually become a meatball empire. From one restaurant on the Lower East Side, they've built a total of six Meatball Shops, spreading casual gathering spots and their quirky humor throughout the city. They have hundreds of employees, and they've begun to put the infrastructure in place to better run multiple outlets. But ask them about their plans to proliferate, and they'll carefully sidestep the question. "We kind of have always had a two-year horizon," says Holzman. "We learn so much in a year that trying to think five or ten years ahead is distracting. Next year, we'd like to open one restaurant, but we're not sure where yet. The next year, we'd like to open one or two, maybe in another city, but we haven't really figured that out. Beyond that, we'll know so much more next year, so maybe we can think about it then. Every mistake we've dodged is because we've moved a little slower." And besides, he points out, six restaurants in five years is plenty, especially for a couple of guys who come from modest backgrounds.

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Food for Thought: King Bee Chef Jeremie Tomczak Explains Acadian Food

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Daniel Krieger
Restaurant concepts in New York City have become personal, as chefs and restaurateurs plumb the deepest reaches of their creativity. We hear about fewer and fewer joints that are Italian or Thai or even that old catchall, New American; instead, it's Italian-Korean, or Chinese–New American, or Isaan, or Icelandic. King Bee (424 East 9th Street, 646-755-8088), which opened last year, trumps all of those with what has to be one of the most cerebral concepts out there. The garden-level East Village spot draws its inspiration from the Acadian migration. "What?" you ask. Exactly.

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Market Watch: Mas (farmhouse) and Almanac Chef Galen Zamarra Tracks the Seasons

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Courtesy Almanac
When Galen Zamarra first opened Mas (farmhouse) (39 Downing Street, 212-255-1790) in 2004, he dreamed of building a menu with locally sourced ingredients. At the time, though, it wasn't so easy. "There was no infrastructure for a local food system then," he says. "The Greenmarket's been around for a long time, but the Greenmarket can be pretty limited. Even local dairy — the fact that you can get it on a restaurant level is pretty new."

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Handle With Care: Bill Telepan's Success Has Been in Building Community

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Nadine Anderson courtesy Telepan
When I ask Bill Telepan what he'd like his legacy to be, he gets uncharacteristically bashful. "I suppose I'm honored to even be asked that question," says the chef, punctuating the admission with a much more typically enthusiastic, barking laugh. "I guess it would be that I'm someone who gave a shit," he answers.

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Is Fun Dining Dead? Do or Dine's Chefs Ponder the End of Absurdity in NYC Restaurants

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Courtesy Do or Dine
Do or Dine co-chefs Justin Warner, left, and George McNeese
When it comes to the New York City restaurant industry right now, "Comfort is king," says Do or Dine (1108 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-684-2290) co-chef Justin Warner. "Two or three years ago, I would have said fun is king. But the highest-rated food in Brooklyn right now is Chuko Ramen. It's comforting."

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Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao Fame Is Planning a Late-Night Noodle Spot in Brooklyn

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Justine Dungo, courtesy Pig & Khao
When Pig & Khao (68 Clinton Street, 212-920-4485) chef Leah Cohen left for her first research trip to Asia, she worried that she was catching the end of the Asian food trend. "Right before I left for Asia, that's when a lot of Southeast Asian and pan-Asian restaurants were blowing up," she says. "It's never good to be on a tail end of a trend. You want to be before the curve. I was worried when I got back that I had missed my opportunity."

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This Year's Dish: What Chefs Talked About in 2014

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Bradley Hawks for the Village Voice
Vegetable-forward dishes, like this carrots wellington from Narcissa, were at the forefront.
How will history remember 2014 when it comes to New York City dining? As we look back at a year's worth of interviews with some of the industry's best chefs and restaurateurs, we notice a few trends.

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