Chefs@Google: Daniel Humm & Will Guidara, "Eleven Madison Park"




Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 24.02.2012

Transcript:
>>Female Presenter: Hi, everybody. We are joined today by Chef Daniel Humm and Will
Guidara at Eleven Madison Park in New York City. Daniel is the Executive Chef of Eleven
Madison Park and owner, recent owner, as of 11/11/11, which I think is quite fortuitous.
Chef Humm started his career at several of Switzerland's finest hotels and restaurants,
eventually moving to San Francisco as Executive Chef of Campton Place, where he garnered attention
for his innovative interpretation of contemporary French cuisine. In 2006, Chef Humm became
Executive Chef of Eleven Madison Park--where he still is--quickly transforming the restaurant
into one of the city's top dining restaurants or destinations.
And restaurants. Under his leadership, Eleven Madison Park received four stars from the
New York Times, one Michelin star, and several James Beard awards, including the James Beard
Award for Best Chef in New York City. And Will Guidara--what's wrong with me? Guidara.
I keep trying to say "Will Guidara."
>>Will Guidara: She's trying to make me sound more Italian than I really am.
>>Female Presenter: I know. He said he was gonna pretend to do the entire interview in
Italian and pretend like he didn't speak any English 'cause I kept wanting to call him
"Will Guidara." Will Guidara--
>>Will Guidara: Thank you.
>>Female Presenter: is from New York. He's the General Manager of Eleven Madison Park.
And since joining Union Square Hospitality Group in 2001, Will has worked at some of
the group's finest establishments, including Tabla, where I worked, too, Cafe 2, Terrace
5, and The Modern at the MoMA, and now as General Manager of Eleven Madison Park and
co-owner.
Together, Daniel and Will are responsible for Eleven Madison Park's magnificent art
deco dining room, which provides an idyllic backdrop for some seriously delicious and
artful cuisine. Please join me in welcoming to Google New York, Will and Daniel.
>>Will Guidara: Thank you very much.
[applause]
>>Female Presenter: So, thank you so much for coming out of your busy schedule across
town to join us.
>>Daniel Humm: No, thank you. It's really exciting to be here.
>>Female Presenter: We're very excited to have you. So, Chef, can we start with you?
Tell us how you got interested in cooking.
>>Daniel Humm: You know, I started cooking really early when I was 14. And my mom cooked
at home and she always bought her ingredients at the farmer's market and at farms. And she
made me help in the kitchen. And but, I only got to do the boring stuff, like cleaning
salads and vegetables.
I never really knew at that point that--. I didn't like it at that time. And I never
really thought that I would follow into that direction. But in school, I had a hard time
just sitting still. And some of the stuff that we were taught just didn't interest me.
And during the summers, I was working on farms and at home, I was helping in the kitchen.
And eventually, I went and worked in a restaurant. And I just fell in love with it and I left
school and I started cooking. And I worked my way up. And I knew the pressure was definitely
on because I left school, my dad was not happy, nobody was happy. And I knew that this is
my only ticket, this is my only chance I have.
And I just worked hard and thankfully, I love cooking today. And there has never been a
day where I didn't wanna come to work. That is, I think, the greatest sign that I choose
the right profession.
>>Female Presenter: Right. I feel the same way. Every day. Being a lawyer. It's true.
I know. Being lawyer is the same.
[laughter]
So, Will, how did you get into the restaurant business?
>>Will Guidara: Similarly, it's what I've done my entire life. And a little bit different
for me because my dad was in the restaurant business as well. So, we work pretty long
hours, so my mom was the one that didn't want me to go into the business. My dad was very
supportive of it.
I was a soda jerk at Baskin Robbins in Westchester, New York, when I was 14. Which, by the way,
for a winter job working at an ice cream shop is one of the most relaxing jobs you could
ever have.
[laughter]
I make a sick mint chocolate chip milkshake, if you're ever interested. And then that's
essentially all I've ever done. I worked at Tribeca Grill as a server when I was a teenager.
My dad was running Wolfgang Puck's restaurants in California. He had moved to California
and I was a bus boy at Spago.
I went to Cornell to the Hotel School there. And then, after spending some time in Spain
working as a prep cook for a little restaurant in the north of Spain, came back and started
working for Danny Meyer. That's when I was at--. I say Tabla. Tabla.
>>Female Presenter: That's right. My people say Tabla.
[laughter]
>>Will Guidara: And I was a ma?tre d' there and worked at a few of his restaurants. Opened
all of the restaurants at the Museum of Modern Art. But what I never wanted to do was be
in fine dining. That was never a part of my plan. I always detested the idea of working
in these really stuffy, formal environments.
And fine dining for me was the antithesis of who I was or what I wanted to represent.
But I loved working for Danny and he asked me to go work with Daniel as Eleven Madison
Park was beginning its transformation.
>>Female Presenter: Right. So, tell us about that. How did the partnership come to be?
How did you guys find your way to Eleven Madison? You came through Danny.
>>Will Guidara: Well, yeah. So, it started with him. I'll let you actually start the
story 'cause he was at Campton Place.
>>Daniel Humm: I was at Campton Place and I was in the US three years at that time.
And Danny called me and he said he had dinner at Campton Place and he loved it. And he has
this great restaurant in New York that he wants to just make into a different restaurant
because at that time, it was known to be a brasserie, and the food was like Cote de Boeuf
, shellfish platters, French fries.
And Danny felt like Eleven Madison Park deserved to be a greater restaurant, a world class
restaurant. And at that time, I didn't know who Danny was and I did some research and
I only heard very positive things. So, I started--.
>>Female Presenter: Just Danny for everyone as a--.
>>Daniel Humm: Danny Meyer.
>>Female Presenter: Danny, yeah.
>>Daniel Humm: Yes.
>>Female Presenter: Danny Meyer, who--. Go ahead.
>>Daniel Humm: Who owns, you know, who started Union Square Cafe and then Gramercy Tavern
and now many restaurants, including Shake Shack.
>>Will Guidara: It's the one that most people can connect to.
[laughter]
>>Female Presenter: Those fries are no joke.
>>Daniel Humm: And I had a great interview process with him because for me, as a chef
coming to New York, it's tough. And when don't get it right, I think in the beginning, it's
very hard to recover from it.
So, I really had to make--. Because as a chef, all we have is reputation. And this is like
the thing that you have to really be careful of, you know? And it can get damaged and then
everything is down the drain. And I've been cooking now for over 20 years, but you really
want to protect your reputation.
And coming to New York, I had to make sure I'm gonna work for the right guy, it's the
right restaurant, it's the right time, and so forth. And eventually, I decided to come
and not far into it, we also needed a strong person in the dining room. And then, this
is how we met.
Danny felt, and I think because Danny is a lot about the culture, that is unique and
really powerful and different and he's been a great mentor in that for me because nobody
ever has taught me that side of the business. But he felt that it was important to bring
somebody from within his organization who really knows the culture.
And we met briefly in meetings before and I asked. I said, "What about Will?" And--.
>>Will Guidara: He pursued me.
[laughter]
>>Daniel Humm: Yeah. And then, it was love at first sight.
[laughter] >>Will Guidara: We actually, whenever there
was a GM there and Daniel and that GM weren't getting along. So, whenever it's that kind
of thing, you need to meet and get to know one another in clandestine ways. So, we actually
had, we met really, fully for the first time right around the corner at Crispo.
Have you guys been to Crispo? And we gorged on pasta. And then there's a little Dominican
bar like, three doors down from Crispo. And we drank plenty of beers there. And that gets
me to where I was, where I didn't want to be in fine dining, but I wanted to grow within
Danny's company.
And he was a guy that I had a lot of respect for. And my dad, who's always played a very
significant role in my evolution, said, "Listen, if this is a guy you respect and they ask
you to do something, you should do it. But put a time limit on it." So, when I went to
work with Daniel at Eleven Madison, it was supposed to be for a year.
And we'll tell the whole story of the evolution, but within that year, what I hated about fine
dining was that it needed to be stuffy. It needed to be inaccessible. It needed to be
pretentious. And I found though our youthfulness and through the friendship that started to
develop between the two of us, that it didn't actually need to be that way.
It was just that way because that's how it had been before. And within that year, we
started approaching the three Michelin star experience with a little bit more of a sense
of humor. And we started surrounding ourselves with people who felt the same way.
And so, at the end of the year, they came back to me and they said, "All right. You've
put in your year. Thank you. It's time to move on." And I said, "No. No, this is just
starting to feel good." And that was in 2007, so we've come a long way since then.
>>Female Presenter: So, talk to us about that evolution because I remember going to Eleven
Madison Park when I first moved to New York. And I think my law firm took us there for
some sort of dinner and it was very different back then. It was before you came on board.
It was much more upright, I guess. And so, talk to us a little bit about the evolution
that you came to create with your food and then how you came to influence that as well
in the front.
>>Will Guidara: I think in the beginning, it's clear. When you're trying to make a restaurant
better, there's things that you know you need to do. You need to have less seats.
When we got there, there were 190 seats in the restaurant and that's just too many to
do anything that's really world class. So, we removed seats to get ahead. We're now at
80 seats. So, we've removed a ton of seats from the restaurant. And then, you need to
change the way that you train your staff. You need to get nicer china, nicer glassware,
nicer silverware.
And there's all the obvious things. But to Daniel's point, the thing that I think we
learned most from Danny, is the importance of culture. And even beyond that, the importance
of language to help define a culture. We, at Eleven Madison Park, we have 150 people.
And now, with the new restaurant opening, which we'll talk about soon, we have 500 people
in our company. And that's a lot of people to get on the same page. And I think language
is really important to get people aligned in the spirit of our collective endeavor and
the philosophy that we're trying to pursue.
So, the real evolution of Eleven Madison Park started--and you'll all see a picture of him
if you bought the cookbook--with Miles Davis, which was our first review. We got reviewed
for the first time in the New York Observer in 2006. And it was a far better review than
we deserved at the time.
We were not anywhere near as good as we wanted to be. But at the end of the review, Moira
Hobson, the reviewer at the time, said that she wished we had a bit more Miles Davis.
And so we said, "Wow. That's really cool." And then we're like, "I have no idea what
that means."
[laughter]
So, we started listening to a bunch of Miles and started reading a bunch about Miles. And
we came up with a list of 11 words. And within that list were words like collaborative, fresh,
endless reinvention, forward-moving.
And essentially, that list of words, which hangs in our kitchen now, along with a couple
pictures of Miles, became our mission statement and essentially guided all of the decisions
that we made. When you listen to Miles' music, or when you read about Miles Davis, what you
find is a guy that was instantly successful, right?
With "Kind of Blue," he released one of the most seminal jazz albums in the history of
jazz. But then, rather than resting on his laurels, rather than sitting back and enjoying
the ride, he completely changed his approach to music. And then less than, I think it was
five or six years later, he released "Bitches Brew," where he was adding for the first time
ever, electric instrumentation to jazz, which is something that anyone who was a purist
in the art form at the time would've certainly said was going to fail.
And it was that approach to his music that made him what we all know him now to be. And
the other thing that he did really, really effectively was he approached his music very
collaboratively. When you look at some of the great jazz musicians over time, most of
them came from Miles' band.
And the reason that they went on to do such cool things is because it was never just Miles.
It was him and his entire band developing music together. So, the evolution of Eleven
Madison Park, I really believe, is due to--of that list of words--those two: endless reinvention
and collaborative.
Collaborative, starting with the two of us. They're in restaurants, and you've seen Hell's
Kitchen or likely some of these shows, there's this inherent tension between the people serving
the food and the people cooking it. He's my best friend. Definitively, we should hate
each other.
We should be yelling at each other throughout service, but what we effectively realized
was in order for work to A, be fun, in order for us to have the capacity to do something
significant in the dining room, we needed to be very collaborative in our approach.
It wasn't about the back of house and the front of house.
It was about a restaurant that included a kitchen and a dining room.
>>Female Presenter: You guys are really Bert and Ernie up here.
>>Will Guidara: What's that?
[laughter]
>>Female Presenter: It's really sweet. It's like Bert and Ernie.
>>Will Guidara: Thank you.
>>Female Presenter: Like Sesame Street.
>>Will Guidara: That's really sweet. This is on the internet, right?
>>Female Presenter: It's true. Yeah, it is.
>>Will Guidara: That's good.
>>Female Presenter: Out there forever.
>>Will Guidara: Everything, like sensitivity.
>>Female Presenter: It's a good reference, influence. Bert and Ernie.
>>Will Guidara: It's the sweater that he's wearing. And then it--.
[laughter]
And then, the idea of endless reinvention, which is the hallmark of what we've done.
In changing so much, we're able to consistently get people to pay attention to us and identify
or acknowledge how much we're improving over the years, which is how we went from a two-star
restaurant to a three-star restaurant to a four-star restaurant within three years, which
has never been done.
And I have to correct one of your facts. This year, we became a three Michelin star restaurant.
>>Female Presenter: Sorry. I Googled it. [laughter]
>>Will Guidara: And we became the first--.
[laughter]
>>Female Presenter: I Binged it, I meant. Or something like that.
[laughter] >>Will Guidara: You Binged it. That was the
problem.
>>Female Presenter: That was the problem.
[Will Guidara and Female Presenter laugh]
>>Will Guidara: So, I mean, that's really, at least philosophically, marks how we approached
the last few years.
>>Female Presenter: So, the book finally came out. So, tell us about your inspiration for
the book, apart from Miles Davis. What else fed into--? Why was this the right time to
bring it out and all that?
>>Daniel Humm: I think for me as a chef, I've been collecting cookbooks all my life. And
it was always a dream to, at some point, have a book of my own. And the last five years
at Eleven Madison Park have been--. We've been focusing on to get to a certain goal
and we had this vision.
And really, it took five years to get there. Since then, our vision has become much greater
and we have new goals, but I think last year, we really arrived at a place where we'd been
working so long for five to get there. And so, also from the team, we had many people
who have been with us for the entire five years.
And for many people, this has been professionally the most important time in our time, but beyond.
Like, so many more people, it has been their most important time as well. And we wanted
to mark that with a book because different to art or architecture or music, things get
recorded, buildings get built, and paintings get made.
And then, they're there forever exactly the way they're intended to be. And the restaurants
are different. A restaurant experience is really only lives in your memory and in 30,
40 years, nobody will remember and it's gone. And I think a book is a great way for, in
our business, to really mark that time that was so special.
I think for a lot of the employees and us, but also for I think a lot of the guests.
And it's really great to have it. Definitely a dream come true. And now, it's a new chapter.
Now, we own the restaurant. I mean, everything happened. It was a crazy last year, the way
it all happened. I mean, we got three Michelin stars.
We became owners of the restaurant. And we released a cookbook. It happened within like,
three weeks. Everything. And they were big goals. And everything happened. So--.
>>Will Guidara: So, now we're bored.
[laughter]
>>Daniel Humm: No. Now, this is--. I mean, this is also, there are recipes for the food
exactly the way we do it at the restaurant, or we did do it at the restaurant. And then,
there's also the recipes and stories of how we got to where we are today. But now, we're
excited.
I mean, in the kitchen I can tell you that our goal is not to cook anything that's in
the cookbook ever again. And--.
>>Female Presenter: That really is a commemorative issue.
>>Daniel Humm: Yeah. It's a special time and now we have to move forward. And we, in three
or four years, there will be a new book and maybe it's gonna be black and--.
[laughter]
Everything will be different. But that's what's so exciting. And I think last year was a really
special year. So, we're so fortunate to have it in a book form and be able to share.
>>Will Guidara: The process of making the book--. However, I think it was a much messier
experience than I think what you see in front of you. We had no idea what we were doing
in the beginning. And we talk about collaboration and that approach, and the publisher and the
book agents say, "All right. You need a writer and you need a recipe tester."
They want you to have this entire team. And the idea of involving anyone outside the walls
of our restaurant in the production of our book seemed completely counter intuitive to
us. So, we said, "No, no, no. We got this." And we had our assistant was going to do all
the recipe testing.
And one of the cooks was gonna like, write all the recipes. And two weeks later, we were
missing all of our meetings and the whole thing was an absolute disaster. And we really
had to stop and collect ourselves. And we still did it internally, but that book is
the result of about 20 people working only on that for an entire year because we wanted
it to be a few things.
We wanted it to be reflective of what the restaurant is. We wanted it to work. Every
one of those recipes was tested over and over and over again. And in spite of the fact that
they're an absolute reflection of his food, they're actually as accessible as possible
considering the food that you're making.
And we wanted it to be dynamic and innovative. And we wanted to put a lot of thought into
changing the way that a cookbook can work. We have an email address--I mean, if you're
emailing us right now--in the beginning of the book saying, "Hey, email us if you have
a problem with any of these recipes." And it was--.
>>Female Presenter: You're gonna get bombarded now when this goes on YouTube.
>>Will Guidara: cookbook at Eleven Madison Park dot com. But so, it was a huge, huge
endeavor--much bigger than we ever imagined. I think if we had known how much it would've
taken to make it happen, we would've been reticent to start. But now that we're done,
we're really happy that we did it.
>>Female Presenter: Do you guys have a favorite recipe from the book or from that time?
>>Daniel Humm: That's a hard question. I mean, there's so many. I think there is, we're doing
the suckling pig. So, the book is organized by seasons. And in each season, there is one
ingredient that we've done four dishes of. And in the springtime, it's the suckling pig,
where we use the shoulder, the belly, the rack, and the leg.
And I think these are some of my favorite pages, spreads, in the cookbook. And then
in the summer, we have tomato four different ways. And in the winter, we have game. And
in the winter, we have black truffles.
>>Will Guidara: For the reasonably ambitious, but not overly committed home cook, the chicken--I'm
not a chef. So actually, I cooked out of this book once because someone bought my girlfriend
and I a pasta maker and I got it and I was like, "Yeah, let's make pasta." And then I
was like, "I have no idea how to make pasta."
[laughter]
So, what you do when you're me is you call the three-Michelin chef who is on your speed-dial.
And you're like, "Chef, how do I make pasta?"
>>Daniel Humm: No, what he did first, he Googled.
>>Will Guidara: I did, actually. And then I was like, "Wait. Hold on. I should call
Chef."
[laughter]
And he's like, "Dude, it's in the book you just wrote."
[laughter]
So, A, if you need a pasta recipe, I can attest from personal experience, it's a good one.
But the chicken, the roast chicken, the whole bird in there is unbelievable. And that's
what I've cooked for my friends now since then.
>>Female Presenter: So, that's the one thing you can make now?
>>Will Guidara: That's the only thing that I can--. That and exceptional macaroni and
cheese.
>>Female Presenter: That's awesome.
[laughter]
So, given that we all have apartments with pretty small kitchens, I'm guessing a suckling
pig is not realistic for me personally to make, apart from roast chicken, what else
do you recommend that we try in our tiny kitchens?
>>Daniel Humm: You know, there's also a few beautiful vegetable dishes like roasted cauliflower
or a dish with eggplant. There's some salads in there. And you know also, use the book
as using some of the elements of the book. We have a chapter in the back of the book
with basics, where we have a lot of different purees for example.
And so, if you make one of these purees, you can also make these purees with more liquid,
more water or chicken stock. And you can make it into soup. And I think it's just a really
interesting--. If you read the recipes, you're gonna learn a lot in just your everyday cooking.
Just certain tips and tricks, how we do things different. And the dishes don't need to be
done--. You know, some of the dishes have 12 recipes and for the most case, you can
make the main part, which is the meat or the fish or the vegetable, and then maybe two
other parts.
And you have a great dish. But we wanted the book to be exactly what we do at the restaurant.
And some recipes are a little crazy when you really read through them. I'm like, "Really?
Are there that many recipes?" And yes, there are. But you don't need to make them all at
home.
>>Will Guidara: We had to get really good on our book tour at defending the accessibility
of the book. And we found two ways to most effectively do that. A, a lot of people challenge
whether people can do sous vide cooking in their home and we spent enough time on airplanes
to have combed through every single page of Sky Mall.
And so, I actually took the Sky Mall magazine with me because they now sell sous vide machines
in Sky Mall, which means it's now the everyman's approach to cooking.
[laughter]
And when we were in LA, this 12-year old kid came to one of our book signings and he'd
already cooked through half of the book out of his bedroom. So, if he can do it.
>>Female Presenter: That's a little creepy. Pretty precocious 12-year old. We need to
get him at Google. Maybe there's a job for him.
>>Will Guidara: We actually invited him to our restaurant and he spent a week working
in the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park two months later.
>>Female Presenter: That's amazing.
>>Will Guidara: It was really cool.
>>Daniel Humm: Unbelievable.
>>Female Presenter: I hope you guys videotaped that or something. It sounds amazing.
>>Will Guidara: We got some good pictures. But he was so serious. It was--. I like, tried
to joke around with him and he's like, "I'm working, dude."
[laughter]
>>Female Presenter: He's like, "Cut it, Ernie."
>>Will Guidara: He's like, "Come on."
>>Female Presenter: "I'm very busy." Well, if you guys weren't in the food business,
what would you do?
>>Daniel Humm: I don't know. I would be probably a professional cyclist.
>>Female Presenter: Cyclist?
>>Daniel Humm: Yeah.
>>Will Guidara: He's a ridiculous athlete. He ran like, a two hour and 48 minute marathon.
>>Daniel Humm: I was, when I was a junior, I was in the Swiss National Team for Mountain
Biking and I had the opportunity to go be a professional cyclist. But then something--.
I also wasn't--. I felt like I always got beaten by the same guys. There were always
a few guys that were just a little better. And I hated not to be the best. And so,--.
>>Will Guidara: So, you quit.
>>Daniel Humm: I quit.
[laughter]
>>Will Guidara: That's inspiring. That's good to say.
[laughter]
>>Daniel Humm: And I love cooking and so I cooked and tried to be the best here. And
I think I'm doing better.
>>Will Guidara: Yeah.
[laughter]
>>Female Presenter: What about you, Will?
>>Will Guidara: When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. My parents sent me to
Space Camp. And then that wasn't a reality. I'm a musician. I play the drums. That was
what I did for a really long time. And I always wanted to follow my dad's footsteps and I
also always wanted to be a musician.
And at a certain point, I just decided that I could be in the restaurant business and
still play music, but I couldn't do it the other way around. So, probably in the music
business.
>>Female Presenter: So, what is the best meal you guys have ever had, apart from something
you've made? Apart from his chicken.
>>Will Guidara: Thank you.
>>Female Presenter: It sounds pretty good.
>>Will Guidara: That's hard. I mean, I don't think it's possible to--. It's like asking
you, "What's the best website that you've ever visited?" Or something. I mean, I think--
>>Female Presenter: Google dot com, obviously. It leads me to the whole interweb.
[laughter]
>>Will Guidara: No, but I think that there's different restaurants that speak to us in
different ways. And one of the things that we do in the book, is we talk a lot about
the different places from which we've garnered inspiration. I think in terms of restaurants
that are doing more or less what we're doing, and I can speak on behalf of both of us 'cause
we talk about this a lot, but Alinea in Chicago.
Obviously, Noma is pretty exceptional. COI in San Francisco, Daniel Patterson's restaurant
is unbelievable. We had a really great meal at Benu, which is Corey Lee's new restaurant
in San Francisco. But then, there's plenty of restaurants that you get a lot inspiration
from, even places like Rella's in uptown where obviously that's not at all what we look to
do, but there's things about that experience--the dialogue-driven approach to order taking.
There's these little places all over the world that do really cool things and if we--. Our
intention was to take fine dining and change the way that it was approached a little bit.
And so, we needed to look beyond the world of fine dining in order to be inspired. And
so, I think it's hard to say what's the best, but we're blessed in that we get to travel
and dine at some pretty cool places.
>>Female Presenter: So, what's next? You guys mentioned a new project in the horizon. Tell
us about it.
>>Daniel Humm: Well, for us, this is, today was actually a big day because 80 percent
of our kitchen staff started for our new restaurant, which is NoMad, north of Madison Park. It's
on 28th and Broadway. Pretty close to Eleven Madison Park. And this is our first restaurant
that we are opening.
I mean, you've opened restaurants. I've never opened, but it's definitely our first owned
restaurant. So, we're really focused on that. I mean, beyond that, it's hard to say. Right
now, we just gotta crush it with the second one because also, the problem when you get
so much acclaim like we did the last year, is that now people are gonna be really watching.
And so, we have to really make sure we're really good right out of the gate. And we're
really focused on that. And as far as the concept of the new restaurant, it's gonna
slightly more casual compared to Eleven Madison. It's gonna have an a la carte menu, which
is different to Eleven Madison.
So, it's gonna be more accessible from price point, but also more accessible from a time
commitment point. But the food and the experience is gonna be really creative. We're gonna have
an open hearth oven. We're gonna bake our own bread for every table. We're gonna have
a whole roasted chicken.
[laughter]
>>Female Presenter: Are you making it? You're making it?
>>Will Guidara: Sous vide chef waits for no man.
>>Daniel Humm: We'll have a lot of dishes with vegetables. We'll have seafood. We'll
have meats, obviously, but vegetables will play a big role. But the place is like an
urban playground. I don't know if you've been to Hotel Costes in Paris.
And it's a very fashionable hotel and it's been trendy for the past 15 years, but it's
a really cool space. It's designed by Jacques Garcia, which is the same designer that we
choosed for our project. And it has many different rooms with different feels. It has a library.
It has a bar.
It has a fireplace room. It has an atrium. It has the room where there is the open hearth
oven. And everything has a different feel, but with the same food. The food and service
at the Costes is not very good. And we really wanna change that. We wanna have, who says
that if you're more casual and if you're cooler and there's louder music, who says that the
service can't be just as good?
>>Female Presenter: The French.
[laughter]
>>Daniel Humm: The French. I thought it was them.
>>Female Presenter: Just them.
>>Will Guidara: I think if, at Eleven Madison, the idea was to take formal dining and make
it less stuffy and more fun. The idea here is to take more casual dining and make it
more composed. So, it is a la carte.
The food is his food, just not plated with tweezers. The service is our service, but
if there's 50 steps of service at Eleven Madison, there's 20 steps of service at NoMad. And
music is a big part of it for us as well. I think at Eleven Madison, music is only there
so that people don't feel a compulsion to whisper when there's only a few tables in
the dining room.
But then, when the dining room is full at Eleven Madison, you can't even hear the music
anymore. At NoMad, we want people to hear the music. We want that to actually be another
ingredient in the experience. And that's been really fun for us to put that together and
looking at everyone from Etta James to Johnny Cash--
>>Female Presenter: Miles Davis, I hope.
>>Will Guidara: no, to the Rolling Stones.
>>Female Presenter: No, Miles Davis?
>>Will Guidara: No, Miles Davis is Eleven Madison Park.
>>Female Presenter: Oh, interesting.
>>Will Guidara: Actually, the musical inspiration for the NoMad are the Rolling Stones because
the Rolling Stones, if anyone here has read Keith Richards' book, which is a pretty cool
book to read, you know this.
Or also, just by reading everything else that's been written about them, the Rolling Stones
come off as crazy, loud, totally chaotic, unplanned. But if you learn their story, they're
one of the most deliberate, intentional, contemplative bands ever.
When they were in the UK, just developing their music, they'd buy every single blues
album that would come out of America, learn every song note from note, break them down,
study them, why was it done this way? And Eleven Madison, or excuse me, The NoMad, should
be the louder, looser version of Eleven Madison Park--the music turned up, our hair let down
a little bit.
But where every single thing is intentional and nothing is on accident. And we're really
excited for it. I think it's gonna be a really fun restaurant.
>>Female Presenter: It sounds amazing. When does it open? When can we look forward to
going?
>>Will Guidara: End of March. So we're in it right now.
>>Female Presenter: Yeah. Thanks for stopping and taking the time out when you're very busy.
OK. We'll do a couple of fill-in-the-blanks because this is what I do now--this has become
my thing--before we turn it over to Q and A.
>>Daniel Humm: Yeah.
>>Female Presenter: OK. So, you guys just finish the sentence, whatever comes to mind.
No pressure. Good?
>>Will Guidara: Oui.
>>Female Presenter: Good? Oui?
>>Will Guidara: Oui, Chef.
>>Female Presenter: Now you've turned to French?
>>Will Guidara: Yeah.
>>Female Presenter: On from Italian to French.
>>Will Guidara: That's how we communicate in the kitchen. Oui, Chef.
>>Female Presenter: Oui. French food is--.
[laughter]
Will Guidara: Delicious.
>>Daniel Humm: Delicious.
[laughter]
>>Female Presenter: You're gonna give the same answer for everything?
[laughter]
>>Will Guidara: We're alike.
>>Daniel Humm: French food is the basic of what we do.
>>Female Presenter: And delicious for you. Good. Danny Meyer is--.
>>Will Guidara: Is an incredible guy and was my mentor for the first ten years of my career.
>>Daniel Humm: As well, Danny is a mentor and is the first person who made me look at
running restaurants in a different way.
>>Female Presenter: Junk food is--.
>>Will Guidara: What I eat almost all the time.
[laughter]
>>Daniel Humm: What I have to eat when I travel sometimes. When I'm with him.
[laughter]
>>Will Guidara: I introduced Chef to every chain restaurant that a person like him should
never go to.
[laughter]
>>Female Presenter: But maybe that'll be your next concept--improving that.
>>Will Guidara: I wish I had invented In-N-Out Burger. I think that's one of the best things
that has ever been created.
>>Female Presenter: You were saying that to Danny Meyer with the Shake Shack?
[laughter]
Just trying to get you in trouble. OK, food bloggers are--.
>>Will Guidara: The best people in the world.
[laughter]
Where's the camera?
>>Daniel Humm: No, for me--
[laughter]
for me actually, when it first really started, when the first bloggers really started having
some sort of impact on our business, I was a little frustrated. But now today, I'm happy
because I think in Europe, growing up, there was only Michelin. And that was it.
And if you go up or down, that could be your business. If you lose a star, it could be
over. And now today, there's so many avenues and so many publications and bloggers and
so many informations and I think it's great. I think it's great because it makes each of
them less powerful and there are a lot of opinions out there.
And it's fair to listen to everyone's opinion. I think it also, we do pay attention to what
people write about us. And we evaluate everything and we have gotten better through it. There's
some good information. There's some not so good, but it keeps us on our toes and it makes
us better. So, I'm happy that they're there.
>>Will Guidara: I think if you're in this industry, you made a choice to go into a field
where you will always be criticized. And I think it's actually funny that people get
upset when they're criticized because that's just the nature of what we do.
And I also, listen, the only reason you guys are doing this sort of thing is because that
world was proliferated, right? I mean, the success of restaurants has been helped in
a very significant way because so many people are so passionate about it. We, for example,
have no problem with people taking pictures in our dining room.
We ask that people don't use a flash, but it's honoring. And I don't understand restaurants
or chefs that are so anti that sort of thing because bloggers are, at their core, in paying
attention to something and writing about it, you're honoring it. And--
>>Daniel Humm: Yeah.
>>Will Guidara: sometimes it's frustrating, but we do pretty well, so--.
>>Female Presenter: So for now it's fun?
>>Will Guidara: Yeah.
>>Female Presenter: A food trend I like is--.
>>Daniel Humm: Going more sustainable.
>>Female Presenter: OK. You can take a food trend I hate is--.
>>Will Guidara: People that take too much credit for going more sustainable.
[laughter]
No, in seriousness, I hate these restaurants where you go and you look at the menu and
they talk about all these random farms with all the ingredients when I guarantee you they
don't even know what those farms look like and what does that say for the other 70 percent
of the ingredients that they didn't put a farm on?
It's like, we got all this at C-Town and we got these three things at a farm.
[laughter]
I feel like a lot of people are taking it too far and not doing it in as holistic a
way as they should be. We never write the names of the farm.
>>Female Presenter: 'Cause everything's from C-Town.
>>Will Guidara: Yes.
[laughter]
Because people, it's all great. And I think people--. It's a little bit contrived sometimes.
>>Female Presenter: Food trucks are--.
>>Will Guidara: I don't go to food trucks.
>>Daniel Humm: Yeah, I don't either.
>>Female Presenter: I believe him. I don't know if I believe you.
>>Will Guidara: No, I would.
>>Daniel Humm: I think food trucks are overrated.
>>Female Presenter: And you don't go to them.
>>Will Guidara: They're everywhere.
>>Female Presenter: Reality chef competitions are--.
>>Daniel Humm: No good.
[laughter]
>>Female Presenter: Are you gonna do one?
>>Will Guidara: Am I gonna fill in the blank?
>>Female Presenter: Yeah.
>>Will Guidara: Do I have a choice?
>>Female Presenter: You don't have to if you're feeling pressure.
>>Will Guidara: No, I actually would honestly answer in the same way that I answered ultimately
about bloggers. I think that they're not so good. They don't represent restaurants in
the best way. But they help generate a lot of buzz for what we do. And as long as you
can hold yourself above that fray, I think it's been good for our industry.
>>Female Presenter: Great. Well, thank you guys. We're gonna turn it over to Q and A
from the audience. And if you guys can come up to the mics to ask your questions, that
would be great. Thanks.
>>FEMALE #1: Hi. I absolutely love your granola. And I wish I could go to the restaurant every
week, but I unfortunately don't have that luxury. Is there any way that I could get
your granola in any other way? Do you sell it by the case?
>>Daniel Humm: The recipe is in the cookbook.
>>FEMALE #1: Oh, OK. I don't trust my cooking skills, however. So, is there any other way
I could get a can of, a tin of granola?
>>Will Guidara: In addition to the other restaurant, we are in the process of setting up a company
to sell the granola.
>>FEMALE #1: Oh, nice.
>>Will Guidara: But we're a little busy right now, so it's gonna take a few months. In the
interim, if you come to the restaurant and say that you were at the Google Talk, we'll
give you a jar or two of granola.
>>FEMALE #1: Thank you. I'm so excited. There's going to be a hundred people there.
>>Female Presenter: You're gonna so regret putting that on.
>>Will Guidara: No, it's a manageable enough group. I think we can deal with that.
>>Female Presenter: All right. Make them show ID. There's a lot of people on YouTube. Yeah.
>>MALE #1: When I go to Eleven Madison Park, what's really nice is you have this quality
all over the place--in the food, in the presentation, and in the staff. And what I find impressive
is that you are actually able to maintain on all levels. So, how do you do it? How do
you like, if 150 people managed to get high-quality experience, maintain the consistent?
>>Will Guidara: My dad, when I was a kid, gave me this quote. I think it was by Calvin
Coolidge. It was this long quote, but the last line was "persistence and determination
alone are omnipotent." And I think that what we do is something that requires just being
on every single day.
And it's a human organization and it's a team sport, right? And you're only as the weakest
person on your team. So, I think that we hire really good people. Oftentimes, they bring
zero experience. Most of the people on our team have never worked in a restaurant before.
But it's our belief that what we do isn't rocket science. You can teach that, but you
need to surround yourself with really good people. And then, being there every single
day to teach and to motivate and to work with people. And that's why when he says, "I've
never gone to work and not loved it," I don't think you can be successful in our business
without just loving it.
Otherwise, it would become really, really exhausting that it's just day in, day out,
day in, day out. In his talk today, with all the new cooks, he was talking about how to
be an exceptional chef, you really need to value and love repetition. And not get bored
by repetition, but actually look at it as an incredibly noble thing.
Always looking to just do something a little bit better than you did it the day before.
And I think that that applies to the philosophy that we ask our entire staff to have, but
it also applies to the way in which we need to manage them and manage the restaurant.
[pause]
>>Female Presenter: Yeah.
>>FEMALE #2: Hi. So, thanks for coming. I actually had the pleasure of dining at Eleven
Madison Park, both for lunch and dinner. But I do have an accessibility question because
I did see you on Martha Stewart about two years ago.
>>Daniel Humm: Yeah.
>>FEMALE #2: You made this roasted chicken dish. It was so appealing on the show and
it was a roasted chicken, but you had infused it with crumbs and butter. And so then I got
inspired that weekend to actually make it. And living in New York, the accessibility
of ingredients is not an issue, right?
So, I had confidence I could probably get together any of the ingredients in your cookbook.
But when I actually made it, it did turn out delicious, but it kind of got into this like,
buttery, sappy, soggy mess. And so--.
>>Will Guidara: Maybe do it better next time.
>>FEMALE #2: Well, true.
[laughter]
But it is one of those home cooking things where I'm trying to be you and then it's like,
impossible. So, it was still very flavorful and tasty, but it really turned into this
equivalent of like, fried chicken.
>>Daniel Humm: Did you chill it before you baked it after you filled it?
>>FEMALE #2: The chicken?
>>Daniel Humm: Yeah.
>>FEMALE #2: It was a chilled chicken, but like--.
>>Daniel Humm: No, after you put in the filling.
>>FEMALE #2: Oh, you have to chill it?
[laughter]
>>Daniel Humm: Did you put it back in the--?
>>FEMALE #2: No. No.
>>Daniel Humm: That's why.
>>FEMALE #2: That's why. OK. All right. I didn't have a specific question about that
particular recipe, but that's my general question of like, how do we be a little bit more of
a--. I mean, obviously, you're such a trained chef and then also have that creative mind
to just have that technique that would--.
I can't even possibly conceive of having the level of technique in cooking as a home cook.
>>Will Guidara: I think it's our belief, and this goes back to the entire philosophy of
this book, that to be accessible does not mean you don't also have to be precise. I
think the cooking, and joking aside when he says you have to chill it, the food is as
good as it is because everything is done in a very specific way.
It's not necessarily so difficult and maybe the recipe through Martha Stewart wasn't tracked
perfectly, but you can't skip a step.
>>FEMALE #2: Oh.
>>Will Guidara: And I think it's the philosophy behind everything that we do. Something doesn't
need to be super, out of control difficult. It just needs to be perfect.
>>FEMALE #2: And precise.
>>Will Guidara: And every single step is important. And when you talk about how do you get the
restaurant to where it is, it's bestowing that philosophy on our staff every single
day. There's no such thing as a shortcut. I'm not presuming that--.
>>FEMALE #2: No, that's actually very helpful. Thanks.
>>FEMALE #3: Hello.
>>Will Guidara: Hi.
>>FEMALE #3: So, I have a two-part question. First, is how can I get an invitation to the
soft opening for the new restaurant?
>>Female Presenter: Everybody at Google, just show up. Say you work there. Joking.
>>FEMALE #3: And then, once I'm there, what would you be most excited for me to try?
>>Daniel Humm: I think there's been so much talk about chicken, so--.
[laughter]
I think you gotta try the chicken.
>>Will Guidara: It's pretty cool. Garrett Oliver. Do you know who that is? He runs Brooklyn
Brewery. We're actually doing a project with him where he's brewing a beer called La Poule,
which is a beer that was made specifically to drink with that dish. And we're really
enjoying that process with him.
But I think for me, when he talked about the vegetables that are gonna be at NoMad--we
just did a couple tastings the past week--and the vegetable-focused dishes--. When we say
vegetable, we're not saying vegetarian. We're just saying dishes that have a focus on vegetables,
are just unbelievable.
I can say that 'cause I had nothing to do with their preparation, but they're really,
really good. I would try those as well.
>>FEMALE #3: Great. Thanks.
>>Will Guidara: Thank you for letting us get away with not answering the first part.
[laughter]
>>MALE #2: Thanks again for coming and for the great book. I was curious about the ingredients.
How easy is it to get some of the ingredients that you work with? I saw this segment on
60 Minutes about truffles that makes it harder for you to find the real truffles from Paris
or Italy because of this black market in China.
Is that the case for you or how about some of the other ingredients, too?
>>Daniel Humm: I mean, are you speaking for us in the restaurant or are you speaking for
a home cook?
>>MALE #2: For you in the restaurant.
>>Daniel Humm: I think things are definitely changing a little bit in the world, especially
with like wild fish from the Atlantic, like wild turbot or wild John Dory and wild loup
de mer, and they're much more rare. And the price is really now what sometimes keeps us
from really still getting it.
And because certain things become so expensive that you would never able to charge that much
to the diners. As far as truffles, also why I think there's less and less truffles each
year. I've heard that in 30 years, there will be no more truffles. I don't know if that's
true, but my belief is that a high-quality ingredients, you don't always need to go for
this luxurious ingredient.
For me like, a high-quality carrot is a luxurious ingredient. And we live close to the black
dirt region, which is in the Hudson Valley, in the foot of the Hudson Valley. And the
black dirt region is one of the best regions for growing root vegetables in the world.
And so, I think we just need to rethink a little bit.
We need to look close and we can make, and that's why we are using carrots or cauliflower
or celery as the main ingredient on a dish because we believe that that is a luxury,
too, because they're grown in the best way and it's some sort of an heirloom variety.
So, the food is definitely changing a little bit based on what you've seen on 60 Minutes.
And there's definitely some truth to that.
>>MALE #2: Thanks.
>>Female Presenter: Do we have time for two more? Are we good? Yeah? We can do two more.
We'll just take these last two questions.
>>FEMALE #4: Mine's quick, I swear. So, I've had the luxury of going to Eleven Madison
Park a couple of times. It's been really amazing every time.
>>Daniel Humm: Yeah.
>>FEMALE #4: So, my compliments to you.
>>Will Guidara: Thank you.
>>FEMALE #4: But I have this separate question from something that I was a little hung up
on. Being a native West Chesterite, I have to ask which Baskin Robbins you worked in.
[laughter]
>>Will Guidara: In Tarrytown.
>>FEMALE #4: Not mine. I was hoping you would be the one in Rye, because you probably would've
been giving me ice cream time I went to Hebrew School.
>>Will Guidara: My friend Jerry Mack's mom owned the Baskin Robbins, which was why I
was able to get a job and why I didn't lose it every time I messed up writing on the cakes
when you had to write "Happy Birthday." I still freak out at the idea of having to do
that.
[laughter]
>>FEMALE #4: Did you make the clown cones also?
>>Will Guidara: Yes, I did. I was very good at it.
>>FEMALE #4: Very impressive. Thanks.
>>Will Guidara: Thank you.
>>FEMALE #5: Hi. I've had the pleasure of being immersed in the New York City food,
wine, and restaurant world through a rather diverse background. And in that, I've met
Davis Anderson, your newest Sommelier.
>>Will Guidara: Oh, yeah.
>>FEMALE #5: And so, first I just wanted to say he's already had the pleasure of meeting
Chef and he said very good things.
>>Will Guidara: Cool.
>>FEMALE #5: My question is around collaboration and creativity as you have talked about the
culture of Eleven Madison Park. What is the process involving the menu? Does it involve
everyone in the back of house? Do you have a conversation with the front of house? Is
it a weekly meeting? How often does it change?
>>Daniel Humm: I think the menu changes every week and not fully, but a couple dishes. And
the way we do it, we have a meeting every month that just talks about what dishes we
gonna change. And it's a core group of four people. It's just the people who have been
with me the longest who have creative input.
And then, we're throwing out some ingredients, some ideas everyone has. And then, we're reviewing
it and we start working on it. And then, each of the sous chefs is gonna work with the team
on it, so we get also influence from the team. And then every week, we get together and we
see the results of where we went.
And this is the process. And sometimes, in the first try, a dish turns out to be incredible
and sometimes, after five tries, it's still not working and we need to scratch the whole
idea. It's never, I wish there would be a very clear formula how it works. I mean, we
have a way of how the process works, but some ideas work and some don't.
And it's important that you have ideas that some of them that don't work because that
means you're really searching hard enough and you're really trying to be creative. And
sometimes, you go down a path for like, five weeks and you learn a lot in that process.
And maybe five weeks later, it's like, "Now the dish is just, now it's just about the
technique and it doesn't taste good anymore." But maybe six months later it could be like,
"Oh, you remember when we did that and it didn't work? But now maybe it could work."
>>FEMALE #5: And by not work, it comes back with the plate full or not fully cleaned off?
>>Daniel Humm: No. It would never be served. For me, the most important thing is that a
dish has to be really delicious. And I think I'm a pretty good judge of that. Even as a
chef, you have to, yeah, you wanna show your technique or you wanna show what you can do,
but in the end of the day, it has to be delicious.
And even if it's like super creative and super inventive, if it doesn't taste good, forget
it. And I think I'm a pretty good judge of knowing when it's just about the technique
or when it's actually tastes good.
>>FEMALE #5: Thanks.
>>Daniel Humm: Thank you.
>>Female Presenter: Well, thank you both so much for being here. It's been fun.
>>Will Guidara: Thank you.
>>Daniel Humm: Thank you.
[applause]