Yesterday we spoke with Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, the chef and general manager of Eleven Madison Park and authors of the recently released Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook. They discussed the book-writing process. Today they give us predictions for culinary trends in 2012 and explain what they look for in their new hires.
When you hire people to work at Eleven Madison Park, what skills are you looking for, both in the kitchen and dining room?
Will Guidara: We both believe that the most important thing to look for is that are they someone you want to spend time with? This is our home. We spend more time here than anywhere else. We work hard but like to have fun, and finding people who can balance that easily is hard. You have to be disciplined but have levity to enjoy it while doing it. We spend more time with the people we work with than people we date, so a job interview is really like a first date.
Eleven Madison Park tops critics’ lists of best restaurants in the city. What defines the restaurant’s successes?
Daniel Humm: I would say that it’s really collaborative.
Will Guidara: Yes, the two words we come back to the most are collaboration and endless reinvention.
What do you see as some of the culinary trends that will be big in 2012?
Daniel Humm: Vegetables in the kitchen. It’s the thing that really is going to be used a lot more.
What have been some of your memorable meals of the year?
Daniel Humm: We were just on our book tour in a bunch of different cities. There are lots of people out there, really pushing and doing cool things. Highlights were Alinea in Chicago; all that Grant does, Next and Aviary. We had a great meal at Animal in Los Angeles. A lot is going on in San Francisco, and we loved Coi. And also in Seattle we had a great meal at Canlis.
The book is divided into four seasons. Do you have a favorite season to cook from?
Daniel Humm: I really don’t. I always like the beginning of a new season, and what I love about New York is that it’s really seasonal. You’ll find a few items that are only available for a brief time. Really, there are more than four seasons. Some items are only available for three weeks.
What will you be cooking this holiday season?
Daniel Humm: I’m going to be at home with my family. On Christmas Eve we do a ham, and on Christmas Day we eat raclette.