Some of the world’s most renowned European chefs have struggled to impress the “tough crowds” of New York, but Switzerland-born Daniel Humm has proven it is possible.
While the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon have all been forced to close restaurants in the city, Humm’s Eleven Madison Park continues to thrive.
The restaurant boasts three Michelin stars and is consistently rated among the world’s most desirable, achieving first place in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list this April.
In the latest episode of ‘The Chefs’ Chefs’, HuffPost UK’s original video series, Humm tells fellow chef Jason Atherton the secret to his success.
Humm began working at the restaurant in 2006, but then purchased it with restaurateur Will Guidara in 2011.
He believes the key to the restaurant’s unyielding popularity is that it serves food with a story that locals can relate to, sourced and inspired by the city.
“You’ve opened a restaurant here, but the thing you were most worried about, I’m sure, is all the chefs who came before you,” Humm tells Atherton.
“Like Ducasse, Ramsay, Robuchon – these places are closed and they are great chefs.
“But they came to New York with the idea of ‘I’m going to show New York how we eat’. But New Yorkers, they don’t want that.”
According to Humm, New York is one of the great culinary cities of the world, but very few of the restaurants are based on the city’s unique culture.
“I looked around at all the great restaurants, and all these restaurants were either French, or Italian, or Japanese, their sense of place was anywhere but New York,” he says.
So when he took over as resident chef, Humm evolved the menu to reflect the fact that “everyone in New York is an immigrant”.
His sturgeon smoked with caviar and cream cheese is inspired by the city’s Jewish stores, while the unusual carrot tartare unfolded after the chef met an Upstate carrot farmer.
One thing’s for sure: you’ll be inspired to book a trip to the Big Apple by the end of the episode.