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The Peppered Chef – Wylie Dufresne


FlashPepper is highlighting fine dining during the month of December and what better chef to focus on than Wylie Dufresne as he begins his post wd-50 culinary life.  The restaurant’s last day was November 30th and the culinary giants were there to see it through to the end.   Boulud, Chang, Meehan, Carmellini, and a host of others flew in from all over the US and the world.  Such is the reverence Dufresne has attained.

Why? Several reasons, not least of which is the vision of modernist cooking brought to life.  His cuisine is imaginative, edgy, inventive, never boring, and always innovative but we don’t have to tell you that, we don’t really have to tell anyone that.

What you do need to remember is that he brought all of this to a pretty shabby part of town.  The lower east side was not the most attractive part of the city but having confidence in your cuisine and your vision speaks volumes for what can happen.  When we said Clinton Street may never be the same we weren’t kidding.  We wonder, as we’re sure some of you do too, what will happen as more buildings and blocks down there come under development.  David Chang quoted to the NY Times, “This is unfortunately what’s probably going to happen to almost everybody, unless you can buy the building” talking about the very thing that made the area enticing may be the thing that shifts it completely.

You also need to know that Dufresne is generous in his mentoring of young chefs.  The WD 50 website proved a valuable resource to young chefs that wanted to see the edgier side of things.  Sharing on the website is one thing, having an eye for young talent and launching them is quite another.  Influence is the overriding sentiment as these chefs gathered during the last week of wd-50.  David Chang tweeted it best,

This sentiment was mutual all around.

So what’s next for Dufresne?  He has indeed reported looking for another space.  We are anxious to see what part of the city he might bring alive this time.  He continues to enhance the East Village with Alder, a tavern with a twist.  And he’s writing a cookbook, finally!  Anthony Bourdin’s line of books for Ecco will be the lucky publisher and Peter Meehan will be co-author.

Meehan tells Eater that because the book is Dufresne’s first, “wd-50 will be front and center because that’s where he’s spent a huge part of his career.”   The book is currently slated for publication in 2015 “well after wd-50 shutters on November 30th.  What a wonderful twist of fate that will be for people starved for Wylie Dufresne.

Frankly, we can’t wait.

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