ChefSteps Invades NYC

Picture or it didn’t happen, right? The ChefSteps team snapped plenty of images during our invasion of New York City for the James Beard Awards last week. Were we nervous about the awards ceremony? Hell yeah, we were. Still, what were we going to do, let a few butterflies prevent us from making the most of one of the world’s greatest food-and-drink cities? Not this crew. There are so many options to choose from when you’re in NYC, it could take you forever to eat your way through the city, that is why it is important for restaurants, cafes, eateries, etc. to make sure they are being seen for everyone to enjoy! It may do them well if they looked at hiring a Hospitality Website Design team or something similar, so people like us can find some hidden gems in NYC that may not have been known about before.

So, from an epic dinner at Wylie Dufresne’s Alder to a morning-after-the-awards recovery session at the amazing Joe Pro Shop in Chelsea-and taking down no small quantity of cocktails in between-we made the most of our few days in the incredible city. And amazingly, we ended up winning in both award categories in which we were nominated, a major honor and an achievement that would have been impossible without you, our fantastic community.

Anyway, here are some of our favorite photos of the trip, along with commentary by the team members who represented us at the awards: Grant Crilly (co-founder), Chris Young (co-founder), Reva Keller (photographer/videographer), Hans Twite (audio engineer), and Rick Wallace (art director).

Drinks at Balthazar

Grant: Balthazar was one of the team’s pregame stops before the happy hour we hosted. I love this place. I stop here every time I am in New York for at least one glass of wine. This time we had a Picpoul from their cellar that was just insane.

Reva: I ate a salad here. It was the first of many beet-based food and drinks of the weekend-guess beets are trending in New York right now.


Pregame Picpoul at Balthazar Left to right: Reva Keller, Rick Wallace, honorary Chefstepper Jen Utley, and Grant Crilly.

Feeding another obsession

Hans: Whenever I go to New York, I make it my mission to see as many musical instrument shops and historic musical spots around the city as I can. My “touristy” activities include walking to Greenwich village to go by Cafe Wha?, and staring longingly at the front of the minimally ornamented Electric Lady Studios. By far my favorite places in the city to see instruments of unique and historic quality are Rudy’s Music SOHO and 30th Street Guitars.


The incredible lineup at Rudy’s Music

ChefSteps community happy hour at Booker and Dax


Community member Odette Plavinskas bonds with Rick and his iPhone.

Chris: I’ve been friends with [Booker and Dax owner] Dave Arnold ever since he and I were the warm-up act for various Food Network stars at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival many years ago. Dave’s a genius-his incredible book, Liquid Intelligence, garnered a Beard this year-and Booker and Dax was really the perfect place to invite our community, since there’s a lot of overlap between its fans and ours. Above all, what made this great was how excited our community members are about what we’re doing at ChefSteps and it gave us an opportunity to talk with them in person. At the end of the day, even as a digital content and technology company, we’re still in the hospitality business. It’s great to hear we’re making people happy.


Booker and Dax owner Dave Arnold plus Chris and Rick.

Grant: The Eater editors were great; it was so nice to meet some of our media partners in person. Many relationships that we have at ChefSteps are digital, so I just love actually talking with people face to face. It was also amazing to watch the Eater team take home three(!) Beard awards this year. What an accomplishment. We are huge fans!


Eater editors Sonia Chopra and Amanda Kludt check out the cocktail menu. Their team took home an amazing three James Beard awards this year.



One of the incredible cocktails at Booker and Dax.

Reva: I was super-impressed to hear about the recipes from the site that our community members had made-ambitious things like Kouign-Amann and Wine Gums. Quite a few people mentioned liking the One Reuben to Rule Them All video, and wanted to know more about Camp. Mostly I took pictures.


Cheers, Grant.

Dinner at Alder


Reva and her camera go behind the scenes at Alder.

Reva: Halfway through dinner, Grant did a very Grant thing and asked Wylie if I could go to into the back and take photos in the kitchen. Unexpected, but super fun! Wylie was very nice and let me hang around while they plated a couple of things. He insisted that I take a picture of their dishwasher and said he was the only one doing any real work. Later: pickled beets and a beet cocktail. (See what I mean about the beets?) Oh, and then there was “leech guy” Mark Siddall-a curator at the American Museum of Natural History-telling Rick and me about something called pu-erh tea that we should try.

Grant: The food was as interesting as Wylie’s food always is, but even more delicious than usual. I kept drinking these amazing dirty martinis that tasted like there was coconut water in them-the bartender thought I was crazy! I had Wylie try, and he said: “Oh yeah, we don’t wash the bar glasses” in the flatest Wylie tone.


There is no coconut water in this drink, Grant.

Rick: Course after course of tiny, amazing bites of food-I remember lots of beet flavor. We talked about a variety of things here, but what sticks in my mind is the series of stories about people driving into swarms of gigantic insects. But that’s what happens when you eat dinner with interesting weirdos.


A standout among an amazing set of dishes at Alder: Chicken Liver Mousse, Almond, Verjus, and Asian Pear.


Seriously, Grant. No coconut water.

Dry-ice ice-cream demo at Saveur


Dry–ice ice cream: breakfast of champions

Chris: I’m a huge fan of Saveur magazine, and although 7 AM came pretty early the day after the happy hour at Booker and Dax and then Alder, I managed to pull myself together and then make a big mess with the dry ice–churned ice cream. Pretty much guaranteed to happen when you get impatient and want your soft-serve ice cream immediately! Think of what happens when you stick a straw into milk and blow bubbles-yeah, that. Except the soft serve–mix is thicker, and sticky. Of course the Saveur folks asked about the safety of dry ice, and I explained it’s really safe as long as you don’t end up trapped in a closed environment with it-since we can’t breath CO2-and as long as there is a way for the gas to escape. What happens if it can’t escape? Let me demonstrate….


That time Chris terrified the entire staff of Saveur.

Grant: I was super-hungover, but still beat Chris to the Saveur offices that morning. It was totally empty when I arrived; folks only started showing up once Chris was done with his ice cream demo-around 10 AM. So then of course he had to make a dry ice bomb. (The last time we did this, mind you, our office went dark from all the dust falling from our 100-year-old ceilings.) He tried three times! The first time he was too conservative with the amount of dry ice, so everyone waited for 15 minutes while nothing happened. Then we tried again and the same thing happened…but this time it was a shorter wait because Chris was now so impatient he approached the growing bomb and opened it slowly with towels. He loaded it with ice and water. A couple minutes later: MASSIVE EXPLOSION. Very, very loud. People in the office were so freaked out. The staff was hiding behind a wall, full of dread.

Dinner at Buvette

Rick: The food was great, but the decor was amazing. I asked Grant if he’d brought this place back from France, (he lived in Paris for a while), but he didn’t seem to think that was as hilarious as I did.


The beautiful food at majorly French-ified Buvette

Two wins!


Pre-ceremony jitters. Everyone has their own way of coping.


Winning for our documentary and labor of love “Wall of Fire” was an unbelievable thrill.

Chris: These were the third and forth Beard awards for a project I’ve played a role in making happen, and I still felt totally elated when we won. When I started cooking over a decade ago, I don’t think I would ever have imagined winning a Beard award. To get two for ChefSteps this year, I feel deeply gratified and thrilled for our team and so appreciative of our community.

Grant: I cried when we won.


Wait, where did that third one come from?

Hans: Shock and disbelief was the general tone of the night following the announcement of the second Beard award. The award photographer was visibly confused as we waltzed out a second time during the ceremony. We cushioned our transition from disbelief into the realization that we won with a steady stream of complimentary champagne.


All smiles in the official James Beard Foundation shot

The morning after


Man at his best?: Hans, Rick, and Chris in recovery mode at Joe Coffee

Hans: I look more horrible then I felt. Sleep deprivation + añejo tequila = saggy old man face.

Chris: That’s Hans realizing that ordering coffee in a paper cup is a faux pas.

What are your favorite places to eat and drink in New York? Tell us in the comments below!

34 thoughts on “ChefSteps Invades NYC

  1. Congratulations! Awards well deserved. Consistently enjoy and am delighted by this website. Thank you for working so hard to make it incredible.

  2. Chris Koller

    Fantastic! I wish I would’ve know you were at Booker and Dax, would’ve tried to fly up and celebrate with you guys! Congrats – well deserved

  3. Kudos to the ChefSteps crew and keep up the great work! Like Stephen, I too find the site quite delightful and enjoy working my way through the recipes.

  4. Congrats! It was so great to meet you guys. I had a great conversation with Reva (I was one of the ones who made Kouign-Amann!). It was also really nice to talk with some of the other Chefsteps chefs. Wonder if we could ever do a big cooking meetup… too many cooks in the kitchen?

    Anyway, some of my favorite drinks in the city come from Raine’s Law Room, a quasi-speakeasy loungy place with top-notch cocktails (albeit not as sciency as Booker and Dax).

    Some of the best coffee is from Irving Farm. I go to the location at 79 and Broadway, but there are several.

    • Jessica Voelker

      Thanks for commenting and making it to the happy hour! Great picks.

  5. Congrats!
    Love you guys.
    I ate Alder last year – what a great meal 🙂

    David from Toronto

  6. Too bad you were not at Le Bernardin last weekend because our paths would have crossed!!

    • Jessica Voelker

      Oooh. What was the best dish you had, Mike?

      • Everything was just amazing but just to pick on, i say the SCALLOP
        (Barely Cooked Scallop; Brown Butter Dashi) with R. Pouillon, Brut Solera, France NV

  7. that was such a fun read! thanks for sharing the excitement, fun, and joy you guys had at the event!

  8. Tom Champion

    Great job people who share for to help us. All of you are impressive by finding time to help the non-chefs.

    Well deserved.

    • Jessica Voelker

      Thanks for commenting Tom. We love our community, and owe them all the successes we enjoy.

  9. Can I admit that I buy the courses just because? Just because they are magical cookbooks but living ones with personality, infused with fun. The wall of Fire was an awesome video. It was filled with all the magic and play that makes all of you who you are. Being in the kitchen cooking for the people you love (and in the case of restaurant cooking, people you love to cook for) one of the coolest ways to give a piece of yourself. It’s been fun sharing my new found love of macaron baking and putting the videos to good use.

    I was so fortunate to have trained a bit with Dave Arnold at French Culinary and we did a night of sous vide with him; after that night I made infused pickled star fruit and mango for our capstone showcase dinner- (these are even better than pickled beets). We did CO2 ice cream too…luckily he didn’t blow up the school that night!

  10. Congratulations to your well-deserved awards! You are doing amazing work and bring a much needed sense of pizzazz to the field. Bravo and hope to catch you next time you’re in town.

  11. C Steppers – congrats. It is great to win.

    But must a little advice. Be careful on the humility.
    This blog post was pretty self indulgent. Pretty much about personalities over the real purpose of what you are all about.

    Ok. Take a night to soak it in.

    But keep humility in mind.

    • Jessica Voelker

      Sorry you feel that way, Rick. We have such a great community and wanted to share the experience with them, these awards are as much about them as us. If that failed to come across, that’s a bummer.

  12. Great to see you win for Wall of Fire, really enjoyed that and your other vids as well. Really informative, thoughtful, humorous and well shot videos keep me coming back for more. Keep up the great work!

    • Jessica Voelker

      Thanks so much, Bruce! “Wall of Fire” was a massive challenge for us, and it’s incredibly gratifying to see it win the award.

  13. richard canneman

    Congrats guys, sorry I have missed you at LES.
    I would dare to say:
    – ABC kitchen
    – Dirt Candy
    – Little Park
    Are great places to eat.
    And Atera, though still have to try myself.

  14. Had a great time at the Modern at MOMA both at bar and
    Dining room during the faux blizzard ’15

  15. Congratulations! Your website is my favorite! When are you coming to visit L.A.? So want to go to Booker and Dax! He is a genius. Very generous with his knowledge, also. I emailed him with a question about some equipment he was using. He responded within an hour. I have his book, and just bought another copy and sent it to my bartender. Enjoy all your accolades!

    • Jessica Voelker

      Susann, Dave is a huge inspiration to a lot of us here at ChefSteps for sure! I got Liquid Intelligence for my birthday and am totally obsessed.

      A few of us were out in LA recently for a conference and has some amazing food and drinks. Loved Gjelina, Osteria Mozza, Aestus, and Tsujita Artisan Noodle. We had a good guide in our software developer, Huy, who lives in LA and knows his food very well. What are your favorite places?

  16. Congratulations to the CS team. Sorry I did not run into you in my city! Glad you had so much fun, though.

    My favorite places to eat: Union Square Cafe because you will NEVER have a bad dish and they always act like they know you when you walk in the door (sadly, they will be closing next winter); Tacombi Nolita for inventive tacos, great guac, and a fun, fun, fun ambiance; Beyuglu to pig out on Turkish, but you better get a reservation; Smith & Wollensky for always perfect ribeye steak sitting next to a perfectly made shoe-sized baked potato; Bouley for everything about it but especially the $55 fixed price lunch, the restaurant design, the service, the smell when you walk in to the place – oh how I could go on; Eleven Madison because…well, I really don’t have to explain; and, finally (but oh I could easily go on) Burger & Lobster – ok, who doesn’t love a perfectly cooked lobster for $20 in a hip, friendly and good-vibe-filled room?

    • Merridith, to those I’d add my favorite in Alphabet City – Angelina a ‘hidden gem’ with a hard working chef-owner where you can actually talk with your friends and pay less than $10 for a great cocktail…same chef-owner, great drinks ‘hidden gem’ goes to Joe and Misses Doe a few short blocks away. For some Brooklyn vibes… almost at the end of Brooklyn is Glasserie, so gorgeous inside (and authentically, once a Glass factory).. and don’t get me started on Brooklyn and its Pizza wars.

  17. It was a pleasure sharing my desserts with you guys at Public when you came in for a quick bite. Love the work you guys are doing, keep it up!

  18. wait,wait,what was the second award for?

  19. Congrats guys. I was in NY recently and took up your recommendation on Booker and Dax and Adler. Great evening!