With the recent focus on restaurants using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, any place not following this trend seems inferior. This may explain why so many chefs are leaving New York City, says NPR’s The Salt: an extreme lack of available indigenous ingredients, and a super-high rent.
Chefs want to be able to use local food, so they’re flocking to smaller towns and cities where they can get said ingredients and build an image around their restaurant. Chefs want to be connected to the sources they’re buying their ingredients from.
Building space is also significantly cheaper in places outside of the city, so chefs can open restaurants with locally sourced food for an extremely less expensive rate. David Levi, who used to be a chef at Perry Street in the West Village, recently moved out to Portland, Maine, and can attest to this. He told NPR, “Because rent is just so much lower, it just gives you a lot more freedom to not drive yourself completely crazy and take a few more risks.”
This shift could start affecting elite restaurants in the city as they struggle to find chefs to hire. Chef Peter Hoffman emailed everyone he knew saying how desperate he was for help at his restaurant, but they’re all in the same boat. Only time will tell if and how this will affect the larger food scene in New York City.