Inside Staff Meal at Fishtail by David Burke: Salmon by Design

by Katherine Sacks
Katherine Sacks
January 2012


Chef Sylvain Delpique of Fishtail by David Burke – New York, NY


Fishtail by David Burke
135 East 62nd Street
New York, NY 10065
(212) 754-1300

Staff Meal Details

Chef Sylvain Delpique weighs in.

Staff meal food costs:
20 people times $2.50 doesn’t cover the entire cost; it covers the protein, and the rest is scrap or items we buy.

Size of staff meal:
20 people

Time of staff meal:
Between 4pm and 4:30pm

Worst staff meal:
It was in France, well done liver, onions, and brown sauce. I hate liver.

Favorite staff meal ever:
I worked in a two-star Michelin restaurant in Torino, Italy. They don’t play around with staff meal there; it’s pasta or risotto and then the meal. It was the best pasta and risotto I’ve ever had.

Unlike many of the à la minute staff meals you’ll find in kitchens across the county, this elegant Salmon Lasagna is so pretty, you might assume it’s a dish on the menu at Fishtail by David Burke. But Chef Sylvain Delpique, along with his trusty Sous Chefs Omar Bravo and Kim Calichio, regularly prepare staff meals that would make diners jealous—Bravo’s chorizo-packed nachos, braised beef tenderloin trim, and sausage subs from Calichio often appear in their rotating monthly menu.

» Click to enlarge
  • Sous Chef Kim Calichio shows off staff meal at Fishtail by David Burke
  • Chef Sylvain Delipique enjoys staff meal at Fishtail by David Burke
  • The staff at Fishtail by David Burke enjoy a holiday feast for staff meal

Making use of surplus pasta from the composed lobster lasagna actually on the menu, along with scraps of salmon tartare, this tasteful dish—layered with zucchini and squash and topped with seasoned ricotta—is not just for looks, but provides the ample serving of protein, veg, and carbs needed to pull the Fishtail crew through a long night. And while Delpique is among the caring group of head chefs who believe a great staff meal is vital for a great staff—providing a satisfying and nutritional menu is mandatory at this New York restaurant.

With five outfits nationwide, David Burke Restaurant Group decided to ensure its staff those well-rounded meals by requiring its team to pay a $2.50 daily fee for the fare, explains Delpique. Along with the company’s internal maxims, Uncle Sam also regulates the meal by stating no eating in the kitchen (although we’ve found a few locales that bend the rule). That means the chefs at Fishtail have the (momentary) luxury of dining on relatively fancy fare in the restaurant’s dining room. “These guys work a 12-hour shift, and most of the time, they often don’t get a chance to sit down and eat,” Delpique says. “We try to do as much as we can to do something good for them.”