You Cana€™t Eat There

Two miles off Oak Street Beach, in the Carter H. Harrison Water Intake Crib, the phone rings. The chef looks up from his notebook, glances at the caller ID, and turns instead to a glass bong half filled with a corked a€™82 Petrus. He fires it up and takes a long pull on the tube.

a€oeI used to smoke during service a lot,a€A says Albert Da€™Angelo. a€oeTotally irresponsible. But it helps with menu planning. Opens the doors of perception.a€A

If youa€™ve never heard of Da€™Angelo, he doesna€™t care. The 13 two-tops his designers jimmied into the cramped 108-year-old cylindrical water collection facility are booked for the opening on Tuesday, April 1, and every night thereafter for two months. The voice-mail box has been full since the day the unpublished phone number for Crib went active in late February. If the call is coming from a local area code, he doesna€™t even bother answering.

Da€™Angelo, the 24-year-old son of a New York Stock Exchange trader, embarked on his meteoric culinary career seven years ago, after dropping out of his Upper East Side private school. His father, a habitual restaurant junkie who a€oecollects reservations the way some people collect elephant tusks,a€A called in a favor and laid down the lawa€"either his wayward son took a job washing dishes at the Mario Batali flagship Babbo, where Dad was a regular, or he was out on the street. Three weeks later Da€™Angelo turned in his dishrag and parlayed his brief stint at the sink into a series of stages in the restaurants of telegenic figurehead chefs like Rocco DiSpirito and Bobby Flay. a€oeI told people I worked the pass at Babbo for three years. It was surprising how easy it was to get in,a€A he says. He kept his eyes open, grabbed every chance he could to work prep, and muscled or bribed his way onto the line. a€oeIf I had to call INS on some line cook who got territorial about his station,a€A he says, a€oeI would.a€A

But Da€™Angelo felt the lack of face time with his bosses was inhibiting his progress, and he quit just as the itinerant underground restaurant craze was kicking off in Manhattan. a€oeI realized I could cook for people who appreciated me without taking orders from some asshole sous chef with half my chops and no hope of ever rising out of the galley,a€A he says. [read the rest]


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Posted: March 30th, 2008
at 3:59pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: business,grub,architecture

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