Meet Gabriel Kreuther – Chef owner Gabriel Kreuther Restaurant in NYC
A native of Alsace, France, Gabriel started his career cooking in Michelin-starred kitchens throughout Germany, France, and Switzerland before bringing his talents to the US. In June 2015, Gabriel opened the eponymous restaurant, Gabriel Kreuther. There, this master chef combines his classic French training and Alsatian heritage with his love of New York City to create a comfortably luxurious experience in the heart of Midtown Manhattan which was awarded two Michelin stars in 2019. In fall 2016, together with Pastry Chef Marc Aumont, Gabriel opened Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate to create unique chocolates, pastries, and retail treats, highlighting the finest craftsmanship and quality ingredients.
Like many others in the industry, the pandemic forced Gabriel and his team to pause for a while. When we met him back in January 2021, Gabriel had recently reopened his kitchen where he had to adapt his cuisine to offer takeaway during the pandemic. Just like many fine dining players, the pandemic has given Gabriel time to think how the industry can be more responsible and sustainable. It has been an inspiration to do even more: to work closer to his producers, and to nature.
During troubled times, Gabriel shared with us his best practices, the challenges of sustainable gastronomy and his vision for future generations. Gabriel recently hosted a Chefs for Kids class, teaching our students all about farm fresh eggs and sustainable maple syrup and making delicious pancakes!
Welcome Gabriel to Chefs for Impact!
By Gabriel Kreuther as told to Chefs for Impact
OC: What is your definition of sustainable gastronomy?
GK: Sustainability is about showing great respect for the ingredients, the producer, the origin of the food, and for the way it was grown, fished or harvested. The problem in the United States is that current legislation does not regulate labeling. In Europe, it is much more regulated and controlled. Sustainable gastronomy is when every link in the chain does its part and that is not easy.
OC: Do you think this current health crisis represents an opportunity for real change?
GK: This crisis will have a positive impact on the industry. In recent years, gastronomy has moved away from real taste. There was too much artifice and visual aspect became as important, if not more, than flavors.
I grew up in the countryside, so when I get a basket of carrots and none of them are the same size, shape or color, I know why. It's nature. Haute cuisine has gone too far away from that. When you cook to show off, or to get the perfect picture, you lose the essence of taste. How often people have the perfect picture in front of them and when put in the mouth there is no smile, no impact, no emotion. It's perfect, it's pretty, but it's not delicious because it's been too manipulated. People will realize that it's not necessary. This will bring people back to earth, back to basics, and closer to nature.
OC: What are some of the actions you've implemented at your restaurant that might inspire other chefs to follow you?
GK: We save food waste that is collected twice a week by a farmer in Pennsylvania.
Before the pandemic, we joined the Dock to Dish initiative, which is an association of fishermen from Montauk who deliver a basket of local and seasonal fish once a week. We got 100 pounds each week. You never know what's going to come up and you adapt. It could be mackerel, tuna, sea bream, conch, or scallops and it all depends on mother nature. Everything is hand fished by line and local. The price is always the same: about $17/lb. This allows us to serve fresh fish at the same time we are supporting the profession. We also buy trout from a fisherman in Pennsylvania, who delivers the catch to the restaurant himself.
For grains and flours, we work with Castel Valley Mill, which produces everything according to ancestral techniques, guaranteed natural, and without pesticides. It's so natural that you have to keep it in the fridge.
We are lucky that the New York state offers a large variety of produce and that there are lots of local farmers and producers.
OC: What are the challenges of working more sustainably?
GK: Finding the ingredients, that were grown and harvested in a responsible way, is not the difficult part; it becomes harder when you are looking at higher volumes at a good price. The movement has to become even bigger, so that the prices stabilize and more people follow. Being sustainable is more expensive and we value why it is, but if more people do it, the prices will align. It must become more accessible.
Our next mission is to make a difference, to educate ourselves more, and to work closer to nature with the right people. It is not always easy, especially in a city like New York. We want to support farmers who do a good job and build a relationship of trust to get good rates and guarantee volumes for them.
OC: What would be your advice to future generations?
GK: Be true, do what you love to do, work with a mission, and enjoy! Do good things around you and don't let yourself be manipulated by others. We are all a link in the chain, and we all have a responsibility, Covid has made us realize that.
The new generation is looking for a purpose, and younger chefs want to make a difference. It's not about the money anymore, it's about educating the customers and the people around them.
OC: What is your dream?
GK: Now that I have my own restaurant, my goal is to leave something for the profession. To push the next generations forward, to make them believe in themselves, to do things even better.
Follow Gabriel Kreuther
Chefs for Impact is a New York City based nonprofit organization educating children and adults about the environmental and well-being impact of healthy and sustainable foods.
Chefs for Impact collaborates with local schools and community centers, and organizes food and wine events as well as online instructional material.
The organization is supported by some of the food industry’s leading authorities, Michelin starred chefs, and sustainability experts.
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