Stories / Awards, Interviews

Interview with Outstanding Chef Award Nominee Michael Anthony

Elena North-Kelly

Elena North-Kelly

May 01, 2014


Michael Anthony

An enduring staple of New York City’s dining landscape, Gramercy Tavern has held court with its masterful cuisine, warm atmosphere, and unparalleled hospitality. Below, the restaurant’s esteemed chef Michael Anthony, a 2014 Outstanding Chef Award nominee, fills us in on his earliest food memory, the springtime ingredients he stocks up on at the greenmarket, and his favorite local haunts.

JBF: How would you describe your culinary style?

Michael Anthony: I’d describe my culinary style as regional, contemporary American with vibrant seasonal flavors.

JBF: What item on the current Gramercy Tavern menu are you most proud of?

MA: I’m really proud of our spring onion flatbread with duck confit, ricotta, and ramps. We’ve admired the work of Hot Bread Kitchen for a couple of years now, and finally found a way to highlight their flatbread in a dish from our wood-fire grill.

JBF: Your recent cookbook is organized by season—can you tell us what seasonal ingredients you’re really excited about right now, and why?

MA: We’re just starting to see asparagus arrive at the Union Square Greenmarket, all of the new alliums (green garlic, baby shallots, and spring onions) are coming alive, and we’re using some wild foraged ingredients like spring tree buds called taranome—which is loosely translated as Japanese Angelica.

Gramercy Tavern interior

JBF: What are some of your favorite places to dine out in NYC?

MA: I love ABC Kitchen, Estela, Battersby, and Maysville. I’ll eat anything they cook!

JBF: We know that Gramercy Tavern is big on community. Does this translate to your family meal?

MA: Yes, and I think that Gramercy Tavern might serve the best family meal in the entire city.  We take it very seriously, because the quality of the meal is a sign of respect for the people we work with. 

JBF: What’s your favorite culinary travel destination, and why?

MA: I’d have to say Tokyo, because you can eat the widest variety of delicious food at every single price point.

Gramercy Tavern exterior

JBF: What are some of your favorite cookbooks, and why? 

MA: Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertolli, Grand Livre de Cuisine by Alain Ducasse, and Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan—because cooking is not a spectator sport.

JBF: What’s your earliest food memory? 

MA: My grandma’s stovepipe pasta with meatballs on Sunday nights.

Gramercy Tavern interior

JBF: If you could cook for anyone, who would it be and what would you make?

MA: I’d love to cook for Jimmy Fallon—and make anything as long as it doesn’t contain mayonnaise!

JBF: Since the theme of this year’s Awards ceremony is music: what’s playing in the Gramercy Tavern kitchen during prep and service?

MA: We actually don’t play music during prep and service at the restaurant, because there’s so much going on that we all need to focus on. At home, however, I love to turn up Wilco and Radiohead while I’m cooking dinner!

Elena North-Kelly is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.