After Jesse Schenker's Recette became such a success and a staple in the lives of West Village diners, he decided to open a second restaurant, Gander, and all by the age of 31. Schenker comes from a past of violence and substance abuse. He writes about transitioning from South Florida drug addict to successful New York City chef and restaurant owner, husband, and father of two children in his new book, All or Nothing: One Chef’s Appetite for the Extreme.
We stopped by the kitchen on a Monday at noon. Gander's kitchen is significantly larger than Recette's (and believe us, we've seen it). There's even a second prep kitchen in the basement. Lunch service is barely beginning, so the dining room is slow and the kitchen is mostly prep. Line cooks are making pesto and removing corn from the cob. Jesse is there for it all, always making sure his kitchen is running smoothly, and that everyone is having fun.
One cook has just returned from Northern California where an earthquake hit the day before. He leaves the kitchen briefly to find her and give her a hug. “Oh my God, I didn’t ask if she’s okay. She was in San Francisco yesterday,” he says. Schenker is always communicating with his staff, making sure they know he appreciates them. Take a look through our slideshow to see him and his staff in action.
The brisket is braised, then shredded and rolled to make their brisket tots with potato and mustard.
Plating Tomato Salad
Schenker's tattoo-covered arms delicately plates their heirloom tomato salad with burrata, Cabernet vinegar, and caraway crisps.
Jane Bruce is the Photo Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @janeebruce.