NEW YORK – New York’s melting pot’s about to get a Danish twist from a world-renown chef who really loves the Big Apple.
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“Like most Danes, I am deeply in love with New York. I can’t rationally explain it,” said Danish chef and entrepreneur Claus Meyer, co-founder of critically acclaimed Noma restaurant where dinner for two can run upward of $900.
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Meyer is in the early stages of creating a food hall and brasserie in one of the city’s landmarks: Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall. His Noma establishment has won the Restaurant magazine award for Best Restaurant multiple times, including for 2014.
His goal for New York: To reflect the city’s melting pot of cultures and exciting cuisines in a new, exciting way.
“On the one hand, I see myself as somebody who will contribute to the food scene in NY. I will strive to be open minded. I will form new and interesting partnerships with different types of people.”
Based on his travels around Manhattan, he considers the standards high.
“New York is a melting pot of different people and cultures, and also a vibrant place and culinary capital,” Meyer told me recently during a telephone interview. “I’ve never been anywhere where I’ve been eating so much good food. I’m used to trying to find good places to go, but whenever I’m having food in New York, I’ve been deeply surprised by the quality of the flavor.
“What I like about eating here is food is so different from one corner to another. You can find Korean cuisine, some of the greatest pizzas in the world, good burgers, sushi and Thai food. What can you not find?
Living in New York: A ‘fairytale’
Working in New York, however, wasn’t exactly his lifelong dream, he admits.
“I have to say it was not in my plans,” Meyer told me regarding his New York venture. “But that being said, I am very happy to have the chance to do it one of the greatest cities in the world.”
He called having the chance to create an establishment in New York “a fairytale,” which is fitting since he’s from Denmark. “We are the country of Hans Christian Anderson. We love fairytales!”
So I asked the obvious question: Once his venues open in Vanderbilt Hall, should we expect to pay a fortune for dinner? Answer: It’s way, way too soon to talk pricing.
But while neither the menu nor the prices have been discussed at length yet, Meyer hinted the answer might be “no.”
“The beautiful thing about organic bread is it is not very much more expensive than un-organic bread. It’s mostly flour, water and time…and attention. The flour doesn’t cost very much,” he said. “I would hate myself if (the eatery) will in any way be perceived as semi-egalitarian. This hall with its history where all types of people from different ethnicities have been waiting for trains it calls for a very democratic feeding concept. That is what we are striving to deliver.”
Want to know more about Meyer? The Village Voice has a nice piece that tells you more about Meyer’s background, including being raised on food that “revolved around canned food, margarine, deep fried stuff, powdered food, and stale bread crumbs.”