Interview by Allison Beck, De Gustibus Blogger
How would you describe the cuisine at Perry St?
The cuisine of Perry St is American, French, Asian contemporary cuisine. It is seasonally inspired, too, as we change the menu as produce and product availability changes with the seasons.
When creating new dishes for the restaurant, where do you turn for inspiration?
When I create dishes, I like to feature a few ingredients on the plate, with high impact flavors, using only the freshest products. Simple, yet balanced. I also use all the techniques and flavor combinations that I learned traveling around the world, and also work closely with Jean-Georges [Vongerichten, his father].
What are some of the most-loved “star” dishes on the menu that newcomers must try?
We have quite a few dishes that are popular at the restaurant. Some of the stand-out “stars” are: Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna with Citrus Sriracha Emulsion; Sweet Chili Sauce Crab Dumplings, Cilantro and Sugar Snap Peas; Pan Seared Black Sea Bass, Meyer Lemon Sauce, Portobello Fries; Butter Poached Lobster, Lemongrass-Kaffir Lime Sauce, Potato Garlic Ravioli, Espelette Oil; Grilled Lamb Chops, Braised Artichokes and English Peas; Chocolate Pudding, Candied Violets.
It has been said that your father encouraged you to choose your career and do what you love, whatever that might have been. Why or how did you end up following in his footsteps by becoming a chef? Did you always want to be a chef?
Actually, my father did not encourage me to choose this career! Only years later did he realize that being a chef is what I really wanted to do. I ended up following his footsteps because I always wanted to be a chef. I was “born” in a kitchen, meaning as a child, his kitchen was my playground.
Was it hard growing up being the son of the world famous Jean-Georges Vongerichten? Is it hard today?
I never felt any pressure because of that. My father is someone very down to earth and simple, I enjoy cooking with him. He and I also often cook together at his home upstate.
What elements of being a chef and working in restaurant kitchens “feed” you and make you happy? Is there any part of the job that is frustrating, tiring, or you wish you could change?
I love the excitement and adrenaline that I get from working as a chef in a restaurant kitchen. As well, it allows me the opportunity to be artistic and creative, in developing, making and plating dishes. The only part of the job that might be tiring is the every day stress level [but one could not guess this, from is cool, calm and collected composure]. But again, I feel that the stress level goes along with the excitement and the adrenaline. The stress makes it exciting and increases the adrenaline.
When you came to Perry St, did you modify the menu at all with dishes of your own creation? How much input into the menu and running of the restaurant does your father have?
When I came to Perry Street, I brought back a few original dishes from the opening, and I created some of my own. Of course, before I had any new dish to my menu, Jean-Georges is the first one tasting it. He gives me great advice and feedback.
Did you father ever share kitchen secrets/tips/tricks with you as you over the years?
My father has shared with me many secrets, tips and tricks over several years, as we often cook together at his house upstate. As they are secrets, I can’t share them, though!
What was the cooking experience at De Gustibus like for you?
The cooking experience at De Gustibus was very unique and humbling. First of all, the people that came to my class were great foodies and knew a lot about food. Though I was teaching that class, I also felt that I was learning from them, too. Secondly, Sal Rizzo and his team were really on point and well organized. A real pleasure to work with everyone!
Fast favorite facts:
Favorite kitchen tool?
Vita Prep blender
Favorite kitchen supply store in NYC?
Favorite go-to place for food and provisions?
Sunrise Market in SoHo, and Fairway Market
Favorite places to dine out in NYC?
Matsugen, Peasant, Sushi Seki
Most memorable meals?
French Laundry and Alinea
Favorite thing to cook and eat at home?
An Italian dish, and also his girlfriend’s favorite, Vongole, and homemade burrata cheese
Perry St is located at 176 Perry St, at West St, New York, NY 10014. Phone (212) 352-1900