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By Laura Walkinshaw | March 31 2014
With three Michelin stars and several other accolades behind him, the chef/owner of Eleven Madison Park talks to Elite Traveler about how he has achieved international success with his French fine dining restaurant and reveals who he rates as the best chefs in the world right now.
Congratulations on coming fourth in the Elite 100 Restaurants. How does it feel to be recognized by the public in this way?
Thank you so much. It’s always very humbling when we receive any type of recognition. We are humbled that your readers gave us such an honor for our hard work. It’s so important that we push ourselves and strive for excellence all with the sole goal of providing the absolute best for our guests.
What is the secret to maintaining such an internationally successful restaurant over such a long period of time?
Without the outstanding team and our culture of collaboration, we would not be where we are today. It started with myself and Will Guidara, but there are managers, sous chefs, and the rest of the kitchen and dining room staff. It is our talented team and their ability to work together, evolve, and make each other better that really allows us to maintain a high standard, and also have fun along the way.
Picking a favorite dish is always so hard for me and for any chef really. You spend so much time mentally and physically working on it, and each has its own meaning and purpose. With that said, we would probably have some very upset diners if we ever took the honey and lavender roasted duck off the menu.
Who do you rate as some of the best chefs in the world right now?
I’m continually amazed and inspired by the work that Alex Atala does at D.O.M. He’s brought the spotlight to Brazil and to South American cuisine, it’s really exciting to see. But there are so many talented chefs out there right now. You have Enrique Olivera in Mexico City, who’s opening soon here in New York, René Redzepi at Noma and Magnus Nilsson at Faviken. Then New York has so many great talents too – it’s just always hard to pick one!
What is the best meal you have had in the past 12 months?
I’d have to say my meal at Faviken in Sweden. The whole experience was just amazing, from the location, to the foraging we did beforehand, and then of course the meal and service. Magnus is a great young talent and I’m excited to see how the restaurant evolves.
What is the proudest moment of your career to date?
Getting four stars from The New York Times. To this day I still think that The New York Times review will always be one of the most memorable milestones for me.
Every single day we are motivated to serve the most delicious food, in a historic dining room, with impeccable service, and every day we are given an opportunity to improve upon what we have done the day before. We treat every day as if it were the Super Bowl, as if it was the only service that mattered.
What are your plans for the future?
We are launching our spring menu soon at Eleven Madison Park and I’m really excited to start serving it to our guests.
What’s the future of fine dining, in your opinion?
Fine dining will always have a place, and it will also always be evolving. What constitutes fine dining now is different than what it may have been 30 years ago and it goes back to chefs, to owners, to general managers, and most of all to the guests and what they want.