Forged in Fire: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's John Stage Looks Back on 10 Years in Harlem

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Brent Herrig Photography
It's been 10 years since John Stage opened the first New York City location of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (700 West 125th Street, 212-694-1777) in a stretch of Harlem that was then home to a meatpacking district and auto body shops. In that time, he's watched the neighborhood transform "tremendously," to use his word, as developers snatched up real estate around 125th Street and began building modern high-rises. He's also kept his Syracuse restaurant going (that one is 25 years old) and launched Brooklyn, Stamford, and Newark restaurants, and he currently has a Chicago space in the works, too.

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Game Changer: How Thomas Chen Got Tuome Really Cooking

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Noah Fecks
Since Thomas Chen opened Tuome (536 East 5th Street, 646-833-7811) in the East Village earlier this year, he's been praised nearly constantly for his ability to take the same ingredients diners see at New American restaurants across the city and make them into something exciting and unique. This capability is what earned him, and Tuome, the title of Best New Restaurant in our Best of NYC 2014. But to Chen, he fits in quite squarely with a lot of chefs in this city who are making a go of opening extremely personal restaurants. "People are doing more uncommon things than they used to," he says. "They're exploring different kinds of ingredients and what they can do with different types of cuisines. That's why a lot of people call themselves New American -- there's no real definition. It's innovative food that's different than everything else. Like here, I use Asian ingredients, but not ingredients that are commonly used in Chinese cuisine. I create dishes that make sense but do not have classification."

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How Chef Brad Farmerie Helped Build a Restaurant Empire

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Courtesy AvroKO
Brad Farmerie has arranged himself neatly into a booth at Saxon + Parole (316 Bowery), an easy smile across his handsome face, as he talks about the keys to his success in the restaurant industry in New York, a town he'd never cooked in before he came here to help his brother, Adam, a partner at design firm/restaurant group AvroKO, open Public (210 Elizabeth Street, 212-343-7011) in Nolita 11 years ago. We're nearly finished with our conversation when he begins talking about how he eats at home: vegetarian, mostly, not for moral reasons, but for health and ease.

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Fung Tu's Jonathan Wu Reflects on a Year of Restaurant Ownership

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Paul Wagtouicz
Glance over the current menu at Fung Tu (22 Orchard Street, 212-219-8785) and it may be hard to wrap your mind around what you're about to eat. Dishes have a Chinese touchstone -- you'll spy fried rice and scallion pancake, duck with plum sauce and a whole steamed fish. But they also incorporate ingredients from all over the global and cultural spectrum: brisket in that rice, a chicken spaetzle served with Sichuan pork sauce, and shrimp toast dotted with trout roe.

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For Franny's Owners, It's Time to Talk Restaurant Economics

Categories: Chef Interviews

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©John von Pamer
Start talking about the rise of farm-to-table cooking in New York City, and it won't be long before someone brings up Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg, the married couple who opened Franny's (348 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-230-0221) more than a decade ago. The couple met at Savoy, Peter Hoffman's now-closed Soho temple of greenmarket cooking, where they discovered a mutual love for Italian food and dovetailing perspectives on sustainable agriculture.

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Meet the Man Behind the First Mexican Restaurant to Win a Michelin Star

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Paloma Cacho-Sousa
Last month, when the Michelin Guide bestowed its coveted stars, four Queens restaurants were included among the honorees. One of them, Casa Enrique (5-48 49th Avenue, Queens; 347-448-6040), is a first-time recipient, as well as New York's only Mexican restaurant to garner a star. Its Chiapas-born chef, Cosme Aguilar, originally cooked at Casa Enrique's sister restaurant, Café Henri, before bringing his stellar albóndigas, enchiladas, and cochinito to Long Island City. We spoke to him about the transition from French to Mexican cuisine, the trouble with customers who don't like spice, and the inspiration he takes from treasured family recipes.

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Humberto Guallpa's Ecuadorian Childhood Laid the Groundwork for His NYC Career

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Courtesy Calle Dao
Humberto Guallpa remembers a press event at which he was standing among some big-name New York City celebrity chefs. Journalists began asking everyone present questions -- everyone, that is, except for Guallpa, who was ignored until he was asked, "Who are you with? Who's your chef?" Guallpa was then an executive chef, and he'd cooked with some of the most prolific toques in the city -- people like Mario Batali, Marcus Samuelsson, and Rocco DiSpirito. But because he's Ecuadorian, that journalist had assumed Guallpa was there in a supporting role.

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Eight Years After Top Chef, Harold Dieterle Is Still Going Strong

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Courtesy Harold Dieterle
After Harold Dieterle walked away victorious from the first season of Bravo's Top Chef, people expected him, he says, to open a massive restaurant in Times Square, one where he could put himself onstage in an open kitchen and smile benevolently down upon his fans. That's not his personality, though, and so instead he opened Perilla (9 Jones Street, 212-929-6868) in a small Greenwich Village space, serving 18 tables and 10 bar seats New American cuisine that now skews Mediterranean. A few years later, he expanded to Kin Shop (469 Sixth Avenue, 212-675-4295), an outlet for his abiding interest in Asian flavors. And then there was the Marrow, a West Village restaurant that pulls from his German and Italian roots. (That joint never quite clicked, though, and just closed.)

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Swedish Chef: Emma Bengtsson Draws From Her Childhood

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Evan Barbour
Last week, the Michelin Guide unveiled its 2015 star rankings for New York City, bestowing two sparklers upon Aquavit (65 East 55th Street, 212-307-7311). That's one more than last year, and it's proof that Emma Bengtsson, who took over the kitchen as executive chef this summer after a long stint as pastry chef, has risen magnificently to the challenge of her new role.


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Bond Vivant: Donna Lennard Reflects on Il Buco's Two Decades

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Il Buco
Twenty years ago, when Donna Lennard opened Il Buco (47 Bond Street, 212-533-1932) on Bond Street, she wasn't planning to become a restaurateur. Il Buco wasn't even a restaurant then. Lennard was an independent filmmaker caught up in a romance with an Italian named Alberto Avalle, who wanted to export pieces of Americana to Europe. The pair had been collecting antiques from around the region when Lennard learned the artists at 47 Bond were planning to leave the address, which they were using as a studio, because rent was rising from $1,700 a month to $2,000. The couple signed their first 10-year lease, refitted the space, and began selling old radios, quilts, and furniture.

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