I had the ultimate pleasure of dining with Dana Cowin last weekend. She is the chief creative officer of Chef’s Club Food & Wine and the former editor in chief of Food & Wine Magazine for 21 years. She sits on the board of City Harvest and in 2012, she was an inductee into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. The woman is fascinating - not to mention supremely humble and engaging. You might not know who she is, but she is basically the Anna Wintour of the food world. We spent some time discussing her newest role and how she curates the chefs at Chef’s Club.
The restaurant itself is a fascinating concept. They have a regular menu available to diners but also welcome rotating guest chefs from around the world. They have a 24 seat studio where diners may come and sample the menus of superstar chefs from France, Hong Kong, and the rest of the globe. Cowin seeks out these chefs as a way to give diners in NYC the chance to experience a culinary view point that they would otherwise have little access to without traveling extensively. The result is an innovative concept that attracts diners to continually return.
David Rockwell designed the restaurant which is breathtaking. The space feels both industrial and uber modern. The ceilings are high, there is a massive open kitchen in the center, and a beautiful marble bar lines the side of the space. One whole wall is covered in portraits of chefs sketched by an artist they discovered in Central Park. The private dining room is sunny & open, complete with a test kitchen for doing demonstrations for guests.
The menu itself is seasonal and modern American. You might think that with the rotating door of chefs, it is a hodge-podge of dishes. However, the menu feels cohesive and is overseen by one executive chef. The man in charge is Didier Elena, who previously worked under Alain Ducasse. Because of this “everything he does is brilliant,” as Cowin put it.
We had brunch here and sampled the entire menu. Brunch is often a throw-away meal for most chefs with unimaginative dishes they begrudgingly create. In this case everything we had was innovative, flavorful, and prepared perfectly. Here’s what we had:
Crushed avocado tartine with olives & feta
Spring pea & speck pizzetta w/ bechamel, chili oil, mint, pecorino
Dutch baby with lemon ricotta & blueberries
Dutch baby w/ ham & cheese
Dutch baby w/ mushrooms and truffle
Duck hash w/ caramelized onion & sunny eggs
Chef's club burger w/ tomato, red onion, bibb lettuce, comte, spicy mayo & bacon
Short rib sandwich w/ arugula pistou & fried egg
French toast with mixed berries & maple syrup
Baked Hudson Valley eggs w/ tomato, chorizo, black beans, jalapeno, NY cheddar, tortilla chips
Address: 275 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012