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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Take a Trip Through Le Cirque, '21' Club, and Windows on the World With Michael Lomonaco

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Melissa Hom
While I'm sitting in a booth at Porter House (10 Columbus Circle, chatting with Michael Lomonaco, a regular comes over and slaps him on the back. They talk for a second about the experience, and then the diner reveals that he's eaten at this restaurant 292 times since it opened -- a fact that a host here has tracked along with his preferences. "That," says the chef after the patron leaves, "is why I do this."

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Doron Wong Explores a New Frontier of Yunnan Cuisine

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Yunnan Kitchen
Like many of his fellow chefs, Boston native Doron Wong got his restaurant start via a menial job: A 14-year-old aching for something to do, he picked up a position answering phones at a pizza place. But because he was a curious kid, he found himself gravitating toward the back of the house, where he'd ask the kitchen staff to teach him how to do things. "Before I knew it, I was in the kitchen," he says. "I was so young, I couldn't even touch the slicer."

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Long Live the Chef: Jimmy Bradley Talks 15 Years in the Restaurant Business

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Red Cat Restaurants
Jimmy Bradley's been doing business in the New York City restaurant industry for decades, but if it's worn him out in the slightest, it doesn't show -- he moves quickly and bouncily, loading up a pot of tea with sugar, offering drinks and food, rearranging table settings, and then answering interview questions with speed and intensity.

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A Star Is Reborn: Meet the People Behind the Revitalized Tavern on the Green

Categories: Chef Interviews

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Robin Caiola
Tavern on the Green owner Jim Caiola
When Jim Caiola visited New York City in the 1980s, Tavern on the Green (67th and Central Park West) was in its heyday. "I remember coming here and feeling like it was the most magical space on earth," he says. "It had a certain twinkle." Years later, he and his partner David Salama -- who were then living in Philadelphia and running a cabaret and a restaurant called Beau Monde -- found themselves pondering bidding on it at auction, but it had fallen into such disrepair that Caiola couldn't imagine rehabilitating it without closing it and stripping it down to its studs. They passed on the project and forgot about it.

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