Inside Staff Meal at dell ‘anima: Curry Craze

by Katherine Sacks
Katherine Sacks
January 2012

Biographies

Chef Andrew Whitney of dell 'anima – New York, NY

Restaurateur Joe Campanale of dell 'anima, Anfora, and L'Artusi – New York, NY

Restaurant

dell’anima
38 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10014
(212) 366-6633
www.dellanima.com

Staff Meal Details

Chef Andrew Whitney weighs in.

Staff meal food costs:
It’s not every week that I buy something. We get chicken legs in often though, which are $1 a pound. I’ll bring in 40 pounds.

Size of staff meal:
20 people

Time of staff meal:
5pm for the main staff meal. Then there is also an 11am one for the all day prep guys, and at 1am I make a pasta meal mainly for the dishwashers and guys who stay until 4 am.

Worst staff meal:
Tomato water with penne

Favorite staff meal ever:
Filet mignon scraps at a restaurant I was working at in Minnesota, a French place called Margot.

You might imagine staff meal at dell ‘anima (one-third of 2011 New York Rising Star Restaurateur Joe Campanale’s Italian empire) as pasta, pasta, pasta. Instead, this group of “veg heads”—as Chef de Cuisine Andrew Whitney lovingly describes them—chows down on everything from arugula and chicory salads to the occasional takeout pizza. And while they do eat the ubiquitous Italian secondi, this chef insists on just one type of pasta for family meal: elbow macaroni. “It’s the cheapest, and I have elbow macaroni tattoos,” he explains, showing off his elbow artwork.

» Click to enlarge

For a more protein-packed meal, Whitney regularly turns his surplus chicken wings into a meal primed to get his staff through a long night. When the weather turns cold, he prepares this spicy-sweet Chicken Curry—chicken wings tossed in a quick carrot-and-celery-loaded curry sauce served with rice—about once a month. It’s not a traditional curry, but it’s filling. And as this laid-back chef explains, “even our Bangladeshi guy loves it.”

Although Whitney may at first look like a tough tattooed skater, he’s a guy who loves to cater to his staff’s desires, and gets a little emotional about keeping them well fed. “It’s the most important thing,” he says. “Because you have to work a 10-hour work night, you need to have some substance in your belly to keep fighting the good fight.” Dell ‘anima runs with a small crew, and Whitney knows what each and every staff member loves. From vegetarian cuisine and spicy winter dishes to the annual Christmas gift of a pork butt, he makes an effort to take care of everyone. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Whitney “want[s] to eat good food too!”