Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban on the State of Germanic Food in New York City: Interview Part 2
Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban, bringing a little piece of Austria to New York
Photo courtesy Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban
Yesterday we spoke with Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban, the talented chefs behind Seasonal and Edi & the Wolf, about their favorite Oktoberfest beers and eats. Today they switch gears, positing about the state of Austrian cuisine and reveal their ideal meal from each of their hotspots.
New York City doesn't have a ton of Germanic food, be it Austrian, Swiss, or German -- why do you think that's the case?
Wolfgang: I think people are fearful when it comes to Austrian fare because they don't know what to expect. There's a stereotype of big portions, all heavy and meat and potatoes with little vegetables. It's very difficult to bring someone in [to a Germanic restaurant] once, but it's not hard to bring them back. [At Seasonal], it's basically French technique and seasonally driven cuisine but with Austrian flavors. It's an open kitchen, and you can see chefs on their toes. It's better for your food cost to be closer to people's own region and seasonality, so we're bringing people back to that [familiarity].
How do you guys divide your time? Does one handle Seasonal and the other Edi & the Wolf?
Wolfgang: In principle, we always work together. We're always talking on the phone to each other. Edi lives a block away from Edi & the Wolf and I live five minutes away from Seasonal, though, so that dictates things. Since Edi is open later, most of the time I come down after [I finish working at Seasonal].
What is your ideal meal from each restaurant?
Eduard: At Edi & the Wolf, I'd have to say the schnitzel.
Wolfgang: At Seasonal, the poached egg with lobster, mushrooms, and pumpernickel. The pumpernickel gives the dish texture and mushrooms an earthiness, and the lobster a refined quality. The egg yolk brings everything together. For an entrée, the pan-seared fluke with fava beans, bacon and a thin slice of lardo melting on top over a corn puree with fresh corn and cherries. It's a very late summer dish and it comes nicely together. And there's a dessert we have called "sommer" that's cocoa soil with toasted walnuts and a little bit of lime gel.
Edi & the Wolf has now been open for almost a year. Is it easier opening a restaurant the second time around?
Eduard: It's always the same work. Finding a place and developing the recipes, figuring out when you'll open and figuring out prices and a feel for what people want in a neighborhood.
If you had to describe each of your restaurants in one word, what would you say?
Wolfgang: For Seasonal, contemporary, and for Edi, homey.
Eduard: I agree.
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