Interview with New York City Rising Star Pastry Chef Fabian von Hauske of Contra & Wildair

by D. J. Costantino
February 2017

D.J. Costantino: How did you get your start? 
Fabian von Hauske:
I started working at a bakery in Mexico City, and then came to the United States for school at the French Culinary Institute. There, I met Jeremiah [Stone] and did some work with Dave Arnold. From there, I met Johnny Iuzzini and worked with him at Jean Georges. Then I did a stage with Ben [Shewry] at Attica in Australia, came back to the States, and helped Dave open Booker and Dax. I did some consulting work before Jeremiah and I opened Contra in 2013. We opened Wildair a couple years later. 

DC: Who’s your mentor?
FVH:
Johnny Iuzzini. Johnny is very nuanced, and has a ton of knowledge about what he's doing. He would be able to tell that something wasn't done properly just by looking at it. A lot of pastry chefs are closed-minded, but for him, creativity came naturally. He also has a pretty savory approach to a lot of his pastry, and was able to create a lot à la minute.

DC: How are you involved in your local culinary community?
FVH:
I’m involved with ICE. We'll go there and share our story with students, and help them as much as we can. I’m an immigrant, so I did a dinner for the Immigrant Justice Corps. I’m still living here on a visa. I'm an immigrant from Mexico, and I’ve been here for 10 years. My sister lives here, she's worried; the guy who works at the deli where I get my coffee is worried. So I approached the Immigrant Justice Corps, and we did a charity dinner with Bon Appétit. It’s something I’m very passionate about, and I don’t know what's going to happen, so I’m just trying to help however I can. We also do guest chef dinners every month where we bring in friends to cook at our restaurants.

DC: What’s your approach to mentoring your staff?
FVH:
One of the most important things to know as a restaurant owner is that the people who work for me now aren't going to stay here forever. My job is to make sure that my people will go on to do great things, and that everyone leaves the restaurant a better person than they were when they came in.

DC: What’s your five year plan?
FVH:
To keep improving our restaurants. We got a Michelin star this year, and we want to keep making them better and better. I’m a part-owner, and we want to open another place. I want to be better at what I do. I always have ideas, and I travel a lot and learn from it.