Wylie Dufresne
50 Clinton St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-2900


Antoinette Bruno: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Wylie Dufresne: I wanted to play a team sport without becoming an athlete.

AB: You got a Bachelor’s degree (at Colby) in philosophy before going to culinary school. How do your philosophy studies play into your work at WD-50? What is your philosophy on food?
WD: Philosophy is about being open-minded. We need to build on what has come before us, and I’ve learned new approaches to thinking and how to apply myself.

AB: After college you went to FCI. What are the advantages of attending culinary school? Would you recommend it to aspiring chefs today? What about experience abroad?
WD: The French Culinary Institute is 6 months of hands-on basic skills in the kitchen. But, a lot of the greatest and most significant chefs are self-taught. I don’t think there is a rulebook. It’s more individual.

AB: You are a Jean-Georges protégé – you worked at Jo Jo, Jean Georges and Prime in Las Vegas. Would you say he is your primary mentor?
WD: For the first part of my career, JGV was the most powerful influence. Now most of my influence comes from a desire to define my own personal style.

AB: What advice would you give to aspiring young chefs?
WD: Read everything you can get your hands on; learn everything you can.

AB: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
WD: What’s the last thing you read? Where was the last place you ate? How do you cook a steak? I want to hear confidence in a voice.

AB: What are your favorite cities for culinary travel? Why?
WD: San Sebastian. There’s a high concentration of people doing very interesting things, and it’s a beach.

AB: Where are your favorite restaurants to go in the city?
WD: Lupa.

AB: What would be an ideal way to review a restaurant?
WD: I don’t think that one person should have that much say. One person can close a whole business. I think there should be a group of people; a team that reviews a restaurant over a period of time.

Wylie Dufresne
WD-50 | New York City

Wylie Dufresne has an insatiable appetite for knowledge. How do you deep-fry mayonnaise? What would edamame taste like as an ice cream, and how would it compliment venison tartare? Wylie’s background in philosophy – he majored in it at Colby College – serves as the underpinning of his New American cuisine, which is simultaneously provocative, intellectual, and whimsical. He put in time at several of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s renowned kitchens—Jo-Jo, Jean Georges, and Prime – before breaking out on his own at 71 Clinton Fresh Food on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Now across the street at wd~50, Wylie’s modus operandi involves constant experimentation. Part chef/part food scientist, he borrows cooking processes and chemicals from the commercial food arena and applies them to fine dining. The result is a wildly imaginative and delightful menu.


Pickled Beef Tongue with Fried Mayonnaise
Wylie Dufresne of wd~50 - New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 6 Servings


  • 1 calf tongue, between 2-3 pounds
  • ½ cup celery
  • ½ cup onion
  • ½ cup carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon grated ginger
  • 5 pieces Allspice
  • 9 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
    Fried mayonnaise:
  • 1 cup milk, cold
  • 2 cups grapeseed oil
  • 3 grams gellan (a fermented gum)
  • 5 grams gelatin
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons micri (neutral sauce base)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
    Tomato molasses:
  • 14 ounces tomato
  • 3 ½ ounces molasses
  • 3 ½ ounces butter
  • Salt
  • Tabasco sauce
    Red onion streusel:
  • 2 ½ ounces red onion powder
  • 60 grams flour
  • 100 grams almond flour
  • 8 grams salt
  • 120 grams butter, softened

For tongue:
Soak the tongue in cold water for one day, changing water frequently. In a pot, cook the celery, onion, carrot and garlic in butter over medium heat for five minutes. Add the tongue and the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook for 4-5 hours, until tender. Allow to cool in liquid, peel off skin and trim away any fat.

Slice tongue lengthwise on a meat slicer, set to number 5.

For mayonnaise:
Shear the gellan into the cold milk. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the gellan is fully hydrated at approximately 194°F, or when the suspension rapidly loses viscosity. Heat the grapeseed oil to 210°F in a sauce pot and soften the gelatin in cold water. Dissolve the gelatin in the hot milk mixture and slowly whisk in hot oil, a little at a time. Once all the oil has been incorporated, heat the mustard, lemon juice, Micri, salt and pepper over medium heat then fold into the milk mixture. Spread on to a half sheetpan and allow to cool. Once cool, cut into cubes and coat with flour, egg and Panko breadcrumbs. Deep fry at 350°F until golden.

For tomato molasses:
Peel and seed tomatoes, then roughly chop. In a sauce pot heat molasses and butter over a medium-low flame, add tomatoes and cook down slowly until mixture thickens, about 6-8 hours. Allow to cool and season with salt and Tabasco. Blend to a smooth paste.

For red onion streusel:
Mix all the ingredients together, bake at 300°F for 10 minutes.

Warm the mayonnaise in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Drizzle some olive oil on the sliced tongue and top with Balinese salt crystals. Place some tomato molasses on plate around the tongue. Decorate with red onion streusel and chiffonade of lettuce.

About the dish:
This is a dish that was very exciting for me to finally bring together. Ever since Ferran introduced us to warm gelatin I have wondered how we could take that idea farther. Now, through the use of gellan we are able not only to serve gelatin warm but to serve it hot, super-hot, or even deep fried. The fact that gellan isn’t thermoreversable allows us to apply tremendous heat to many products without any breakdown.

This dish is also an homage to my father. Many years ago, when I was very young, my father owned a well-known sandwich shop. For a long time I have wanted to create a dish that would bring all the flavors of one of his sandwiches together in a new and interesting way. Ultimately, that’s what this dish is: a tongue sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayonnaise.

   Published: April 2005