VIDEO: Jean-Georges Vongerichten Sits Down at the Chef's Table Part 5
In the final installment of At the Chef's Table with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, The Daily Meal's video producer, Ali Rosen, talks with the chef about the continued evolution and expansion of his restaurant empire.
Rosen begins the interview by asking Vongerichten about how he went from having a few places to having a burgeoning empire in just a few years. "I'm living the American dream, after opening JG and getting four stars I got approached about opening other spaces."
With the rapid expansion, maintaining quality without constant supervision can be a challenge, and Vongerichten relies on picking the right team for each kitchen, "For me this business is all about talent, it's all about the people around you, because if you want 100 percent of me I'll have to open a small counter with seven seats; I would cook, I would serve you, and I would wash dishes after."
With regards to dividing his time among so many restaurants, Vongerichten claims "it's simple." He begins the day at his office in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, then travels uptown to Jean Georges for service. "When you put your name on the door, you have to be here," he says. "It's a challenging restaurant. That's why I only have one, because it would be impossible to do two."
According to Vongerichten, "The best part of a restaurant is the first three months." So his plans for the future include opening a lobster house in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. ("It's going to be food from Montauk to Maine."). He is also working on opening a restaurant behind ABC Kitchen, in the space currently occupied by Pipa and one next door in the Le Pain Quotidien space, where he will open an ABC Go.
When it comes to discussing the legacy he hopes to leave behind, though, Vongerichten shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He says, "I'm 55 and I just want to do everything I can do, because I don't want to leave anything behind. I have a son who does Perry St. now, but I don't want him to take over what I started because it’s not really a gift, it’s more like a nightmare," he chuckles, "It looks like the generation is continuing."