Photography courtesy of Evan Sung.
Joe Anthony is the Chef de Cuisine at Gabriel Kreuther restaurant.
Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up and how you got interesting in cooking?
I grew up in an active surf and skate community down in south-east Florida. The weather is pretty consistent year around, so I spent a good amount of time outdoors and playing sports. Lots of young people means lots of partying, and my youth had no shortage of that. Hanging with friends and playing music was the norm. I was never a “rise and shine” kind of person, so in retrospect the restaurant industry fit well. However, my career really started out like any other kid trying to make some spending cash. I took the job as a busboy at this local restaurant called 32East in Delray Beach. I remember seeing the intensity and drive the kitchen team had and it was very contagious. It became inspiring to see the level of execution and pride that came with each nightly service. I loved the controlled chaos and the formality of how much a team sport it was. The kitchen took notice that I was intrigued and started giving me bits and pieces of the menu to taste. The menu changed daily, and I became hooked on the sheer creativeness and ever evolving products. This was not a stagnant restaurant and it didn’t have stagnant chefs. I made the decision at 19 that this is what I wanted to do. I was thrown in the fire, but was fortunate enough to have the kitchen boys show me the ropes. I’ve never looked back and have never had another job outside of the restaurant industry.
Painted Hills Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Salsify, Potato Dumplings and Juniper Jus
What led you to come cook in New York?
I spent eight years cooking in south Florida all while staying in the Delray area. I worked for the same group in various positions between the two restaurants they had. At the time, it felt like Florida had a limit on how far you could learn and grow. I knew the next step naturally would be to go and experience life in a big food city. My chef was very supportive and made a few calls for me to trail at some high-end establishments in New York City. I spent the next few years working at Restaurant Daniel and Union Square Café before ultimately joining the Modern and meeting chef Gabriel.
Smoked Eel Velouté, Seven Grain Tuille, Saffron Tapioca, Black Truffle Coulis
How would you describe your food philosophy?
I believe that everything is and needs to be evolving, so therefore my philosophy will change too… but at the end of the day I try to create dishes the way that I want to eat them.
You cooked with Chef Kreuther at the Modern, how is the approach to your menu for Gabriel Kreuther different?
I wouldn’t say our approach is necessarily different, just evolving. The Modern was well established and successful long before I worked there, so it had its style already. A lot has already changed here from the opening to present. However, chef Gabriel’s food in my opinion always has a soul to it and feels somewhat familiar even if you’ve never had it. That’s something I keep in the back of my head and never want to lose with our approach.
You recently returned from cooking in Japan. Can you tell us about that experience and any take aways or eye openers learned there?
I am very fortunate and humbled to be able to experience Japan the way I did. It was part of a cultural exchange program provided by the Gohan Society. It’s a beautiful program they put together every year and I really must express my gratitude.
We spent nine days traveling through Ishikawa, Kanazawa and ultimately ending in Tokyo. It was a great mix of cultural activities such as sake brewing, miso processing, traditional pottery making and staging in restaurants. The first thing they taught me was how to make a classic dashi. It’s something that I always enjoyed, but now have a completely different understanding and respect for. That could pretty much sum up how I feel about the whole experience.
Do you cook at home?
I cook every almost every Sunday at my apartment for my fiancé Nancy. Mostly stew and food that can be reheated all week while I’m at work.
What are you favorite kitchen tools?
I guess my favorite tool has to be my knives. I mean I have one in my hand pretty much every day.
Charcoal Grilled Maine Lobster with Baby Carrots, Toasted Cashew and Jamon Nage
Ingredients you are excited about right this moment?
We use this farmer named Dan Lieber who has become like an ambassador for a lot of the local farms in Pennsylvania. He owns and runs Stardust Farms which produces amazing squab, but he also delivers for a lot of great local produce, grains, and dairy farms within the area. Greenwalk Trout Hatchery has to be one of my favorite new producers to work with. You can tell all the hard work and care that goes into raising the different varieties of trout.
Fluke Tartare with Meyer Lemon Custard, Maine Uni, Yuzu, Wasabi, Finger Lime and Green Apple
Can you share some favorite places to eat in New York and elsewhere?
I recently had a great meal at Shuko and would recommend for sure. Del Posto, Per Se and Olmsted are always solid choices for me. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a drunken night that ends up in K-town though! Outside of NYC I’ll def go with Alinea. Those guys push so hard and are constantly evolving. I have much respect and admiration for the chefs there.