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Danny Meyer On What Sets His Restaurants Apart

Restaurateur Danny Meyer talks about his new cookbook 'Family Table' and how his dedicated restaurant staff inspired some of the dishes that helped make his establishments so successful.

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"The reason that people have such a great time eating there as guests is because our staff does such a great job of cooking for each other before you come."

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Slaven Vlasic Ethan Miller Kevork Djansezian Spencer Platt Scott Olson
TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

Our first restaurant is Union Square Cafe, and I had an honor to stage there. - Did you really? - That was one of the mass in guise stages out there, it's basically, I walked in, I knocked on the door, and I said, I'm free today, can I work for free? And to see an institution twenty five years? Correct me? - Now twenty seven and a half years old. - No notes, I'm going straight off of knowledge here, off of reading your book and everything else, twenty seven years and I walked in this place, and to see from the potato chips to the roasted chicken to the dining room to the fact that the bar tenders have been there since day 1 that you opened, I think that's a testimony of a restaurateur in the first place, that people don't leave you, right? - Well that kind of gets to the point of our new cookbook which is called Family Table. - I call that a segue, by the way. - And we did a really, really good job of appreciating the reason that people have such a good time eating in our restaurants as guests whether it's Gramercy Tavern or Maialino or the Modern, or Blue Smoke, or Northern Grill. - Congratulations on 3 stars at Modern. - Thanks. Oh, we love that review for the Modern, but the reason that people have such a great time eating there as guests is because our staff does such a great job of cooking for each other before you come. - Right. - And so we did a whole cookbook based on the recipes that our staff members cook for each other before you get to the restaurant. - Really? - And what's amazing is that there's a lot of ethnicity in the dishes. - Of course there is. - Yeah, because depending on the restaurant they could be from the  Dominican Republic or Ecuador or the Bronx or San Francisco... - Right, right. - It just depends but they are all dishes that you know, as a chef, you can cook quickly. - Easy. - They are easy and they are inexpensive because we're not serving the white truffles to ourselves. - Exactly. Not the most primal cuts in the world is what you're having with a staff meal, but how many staff meals have turned into menu items, sometimes? - Well you know? There's one that is one of my favorites in the cookbook called Victor's Dominican Beef, and Victor Estrella started as a dish washer at Union Square Cafe twenty five years ago, and he became our head prep cook, our head butcher, I should say, and his job was to be the guy that said, alright, of this side of beef, how many beautifully cut steaks can we make? - Okay. - And then what portion isn't the right shape for steak could go into the Bolognese, and then what's left is this part that just wants to be cooked, and cooked, and cooked, and cooked, and he came up with this great recipe for Family Meal called Victor's Dominican Beef. And when we opened Union Cafe's first brunch service, which didn't happen until 2 years ago, that went on the menu, because it's great hangover food. And New Yorkers love their brunch. - Yes we do, yes, yes. The only quibble that I have with New Yorkers is that you can't get drinks until 12 o'clock in the afternoon. right?