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Seven years ago, Gabriel Kreuther opened his eponymous restaurant in New York City on the edge of Bryant Park. Each day since, the James Beard Award-winning chef has welcomed diners to a warm atmosphere adorned with reclaimed wood beams, hand-painted wall coverings, one-of-a-kind art, cream-colored banquettes, 42 crystal storks hanging from the ceiling, among other special decor details.
Past the interior design, the two Michelin-starred French cuisine that’s found on the restaurant’s plates takes the public from Manhattan to his home of Alsace, France—a transformative region that influenced his appreciation for ingredients, techniques, and nature early on. Visitors who experience Kreuther’s delectable dishes are transported back to this historic space, filled with rich flavors, fresh ingredients, and Germanic culinary traditions.
Recently, Kreuther released a cookbook entitled Gabriel Kreuther: The Spirit of Alsace, A Cookbook with Abrams. Through 368 pages of recipes, personal stories, photographs, and text by the author Michael Ruhlman, food patrons embark on an unforgettable journey to get a closer look at Chef’s French-Swiss-German training, refined style, and the spirit of Alsace he has embraced for decades.
In celebration of the book’s release, Whitewall spoke with Kreuther to hear which recipes he recommends the public trying, the importance of food in community-building, and what he’s cooking up in the kitchen and beyond for 2022.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us a bit about what's found in your new cookbook?
GABRIEL KREUTHER: One part of my cookbook is a passionate look at Alsatian food culture and tradition like you’d never seen before. It’s an essential handbook if you want to learn about Alsace, which doesn’t get as much attention as Paris or Provence. The second part of the book is my journey as a chef from my family’s farm to creating my own restaurant in New York City.
I tell you everything from my apprenticeship with my uncle, winning apprentice of the year on television, to working at some of the top restaurants in Europe, then almost having to start a brand new in New York, all the while maintaining my craft and traditions. In the end, I achieved all my dreams—family, friends, an amazing team, and, of course, Michelin stars.
WW: Is there one recipe you recommend everyone try?
GK: There are many. The Onion Tart, the Brussel Sprouts, the Toasted Flour soup, the Spaetzle, Potato Galette, Choucroute…The absolute one to try is the Tarte Flambé and the Bibeleskaes. It’s all about the flavors of the region.
WW: What do you feel is unique about Alsatian cuisine?
GK: Alsatian cuisine is both rustic and refined—it has connections to Medieval and Roman times. It plays with acid and spices in a way not seen in the rest of France. It takes the best of German and French cooking because it’s at the historical crossroads of each. Again, it’s rustic elegance.
WW: How has the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work?
GK: A dramatic slowdown at the beginning of the pandemic, literally to a standstill! And then the way we work every day—under a mask now. We were able to pivot every time the regulation was changed on us as an industry.
WW: What about your view of food?
GK: The pandemic has reinforced my view of food as a blend of pleasure, medicine, and experience. It brings us all together. That’s how important food is to society. It helps to create new memories, which are elemental and necessary. It nourishes us but it also nourishes our soul.
WW: What can guests expect from your restaurant today?
GK: To visit us now is to visit a world we’ve specially created for you. You’ll forget the outside world for a few hours, as we immerse you in a cocoon full of surprises, both culinary and otherwise. We are constantly tweaking the experience so that the customer feels swept away to the meal of their dreams.
WW: What's one not-miss dish?
GK: The Sturgeon and Sauerkraut Tart.
WW: What are you cooking at home now?
GK: Usually, simple things for a brunch, like an omelet or scrambled eggs on weekends or some baking with my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter!
WW: What are you working on in 2022?
GK: We have some very special partnerships coming onboard—that we can’t tell you about yet—but they’re going to be amazing. Right now, we are proud to announce that we are building out a large commissary kitchen for Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate, to expand their talent and possibilities so that we can show the world our true chocolate expressions. We dream of chocolate and can’t wait to bring those dreams to life.