Letter From the Editors: You Can Still Make It in New York

By Antoinette Bruno | Will Blunt | Illustrated by Alix Pentecost-Farren

By

Antoinette Bruno
Will Blunt
Illustrated by Alix Pentecost-Farren
Brooklyn illustrator Alix Pentecost-Farren portrays the excitement of the NYC wine scene
Brooklyn illustrator Alix Pentecost-Farren portrays the excitement of the NYC wine scene

Over the past few months, the StarChefs team took a refresher course in New York dining, visiting more than 130 young professionals from Harlem to Pier A and Red Hook to Long Island City. For all the doom and gloom projected onto (and from) the industry, New York’s chefs, artisans, somms, bartenders, and business are full of ideas and promise, if not more practical ambitions.
 
Five years ago, the 20-seat tasting counter was the dream. In 2017, chefs like Jon Nodler have embraced the all-day cafe model, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’re taking full advantage of their real estate and channeling hard-won fine-dining skills into fish and pickle platters funfetti cake, and sandwiches. Dining out is fun right now. Brunch is packed, entrées for one are dead, and dishes-you-can’t-admit-to-loving (ahem, molten chocolate cake and fried mozzarella sticks) are getting makeovers. Oh, and you can get a $36, three-course menu in Manhattan—thank you Atoboy!

If the notion of the chef-driven restaurant has expanded, the beverage industry has exploded. In 2017, we have a whole generation of professionals who never knew a New York without the progressive cocktail movement. Good drinking is their norm, and we’ve shared some of our favorite drinks in this issue’s Kitchen Cocktail Notebook. We also met with bartenders at Ghost Donkey, Saxon + Parole, and the NoMad, who are collaborating in new ways with their back-of-house peers to reduce waste, cross-utilize product, and share costs.

Sommeliers have found their voice in the city, too. They’re wearing their pins and pouring their favorite juices with vegetarian, Indian, and classic French cuisine. Their lists are influenced by their diverse upbringings (across the country and globe) and backgrounds as varied as poetry MFAs and culinary school degrees. Roasting culture has also evolved. Instead of big West Coast roasters dominating the scene, New York now has room for distinct voices in coffee, including Rising Star César Vega and his all-Nicaraguan coffee program at Café Integral.

It’s an exciting time to work in the New York restaurant industry. International figures like Claus Meyer have chosen it as a new home base and young professionals—in particular this year’s Rising Stars winners—still have the chutzpah to take risks. Shift. Change. Start trends. Go big. And we’re all eating and drinking better for it.

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