Hugh Acheson: What is New York Cuisine?

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For the New York issue of our member newsletter, JBF Notes, we asked past Best Chef award winners from regions around the country to tell us what cuisine in the Big Apple means to them, and, of course, for their must-visit spots when they're in town. We'll be posting their responses throughout the week. Next up: Hugh Acheson, winner of the 2012 Best Chef: South award and chef of Five & Ten, the National, and Empire State South.

 

What is New York cuisine?

 

New York City has an overflowing basket of cuisines based on people busting their asses to make it great. It's a place where dreams are made under implausible circumstances, but from them comes something beautiful. The common thread is dedication to working hard and showcasing a most wondrous city. It should always revel in its exceptional diversity, which makes it difficult to sum up the cuisine in a sentence. New York cuisine used to mean steak, pastrami on rye, and cheesecake, but now it means amazing seasonality (Blue Hill, Eleven Madison Park, Northern Spy, Hearth, Gramercy Tavern), cutting-edge homages to a storied past (Torissi, Mile End, No. 7 Sub, Roberta’s), and amazing nods to where the generations came from and what they've been through (Yakitori Totto, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Turntable, Txikito).

 

Favorite restaurants?

 

I love Totto Ramen because it’s totally puck rock, smart, and awesome. I love Hearth because they are always spectacularly honest and real, and it shows the hard work and dedication of Marco, George, and Paul beautifully. I love PDT because I can drink fantastic cocktails while eating fries with melted cheese and jalapenos and a really good hot dog—and not feel guilty about it. I love oysters and Sancerre at the John Dory for new school and at Grand Central Oyster Bar for old school. I love anything at Buvette. It’s a place that just feels so right. I love a sub at No. 7 on Broadway. I love New York City. Period.

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