Chef/partner Chris Jaeckle of All’onda (22 East 13th Street; 212-231-2236) has worked with many of New York’s culinary greats: Larry Forgione, Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants, Morimoto, and Michael White’s Altamarea Group, to name a few. Supporting the innovation and personal projects of chefs locally is important to him, as is making sure he eats around to really know what plates his peers are putting out. So when a casual lunch at Andrew Carmellini’s new-ish Little Park (85 West Broadway; 212-220-4410) reunited him with an old colleague, a dish teeming with creativity became his best bite of the month.
“I went to Little Park on a rare day off to show some support ‘for the family,’ as we say. I’d worked with Andrew’s chef de cuisine, Min Kong, before, and I brought a friend from out of town in for a leisurely lunch at the bar. When I dine out, I always order things that particularly pique my interest, and a celery root schnitzel sandwich certainly looked interesting.
“What I loved the most about the sandwich was the replacement of meat entirely with a vegetable. Evidently they sous-vide the celery root for a while before breading and frying it, which tenderizes it and brings out its meaty quality. It wasn’t meat, but I didn’t miss meat, which was really interesting, since a sandwich usually centers around the protein on it. But there, I didn’t crave or desire it. They make their own mustard, too, which was acidic and hot and bitter, and with the fried celery root and cabbage, all the points were hit for a tasty, tasty sandwich.
“Overall, what makes it so well done is how thoughtful it is. It hits all the elements necessary for a good sandwich while still being out of the box. To me, that’s an expression of the creativity of the chef.”
Where do chefs go to eat on their nights off? We’re asking them — and they’re divulging the best things they’ve eaten in the last month in this weekly column. Read more in the archives of The Best Thing I Ate This Month.