Chef Joaquin Baca of Brooklyn Star - Biography

Brooklyn, NY

August 2013

Joaquin Baca is a Texas native, so maybe it’s no surprise that the chef inherited the wood-burning oven at Brooklyn Star with casual aplomb. Born into a family of cattle ranchers who cooked everything on big grills, Baca knew he could still be creatively nimble with a heat source on the more massive end of the spectrum.

A chef in the Southwest for 10 years before moving to New York, Baca was exposed to bold regional flavors. So when arrive in the city, he was able to dive into the broad-shouldered swagger and occasional genre-bending of Momofuku with partner David Chang. Baca helped Chang expand the then-small empire with Momofuku Ssam, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Momofuku Ko—even helping open Ken Friedman’s Rusty Knot along the way.

But as the Momofuku empire continued to grow, Baca knew he needed his own place, so he left the house that Chang built to open his own restaurant: the Southern-inflected, wood-burning oven-anchored Brooklyn Star. And even after a fire in 2009 destroyed his original location, Baca worked his way back, rebuilding Brooklyn Star in 2011.