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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New American: Dan Barber Explores a Brave New Cuisine

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Mark Ostow
Just because farm-to-table has become an overused buzzword doesn't mean our work in that arena is done. Far from, says Dan Barber, whose visionary 14-year-old West Village restaurant Blue Hill (75 Washington Place, 212-539-1776) propelled him to a leadership role within the locavore movement. Barber later opened Blue Hill Stone Barns, which exists on and is supplied by a Hudson Valley farm. For the lifespan of each of his restaurants, he's been exploring the relationship between land and cuisine, a quest that's had some profound effects on his menus and outlook.

Now, he's sharing that journey publicly.

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Thank You for Smoking: Meet Hill Country Barbecue Market BK's Master of Meat

Categories: Chef Interviews

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All photos by Hill Country Barbecue Market
His father was from North Carolina, but Ash Fulk didn't really fall in love with barbecue until he went out and visited his family after his grandma died. On that trip, he started getting acquainted with southern fare, and he began requesting fried chicken and mashed potatoes or a trip to a barbecue restaurant each year for his birthday.

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