Topping Rose's top toque shares his recipe for his sweet success.
Longines Master Collection watch, longines.com
Madonna, Prince, Beyoncé… the one-name-only status often reserved for rock stars clearly applies to culinary supernova Jean-Georges Vongerichten. We polled the esteemed epicurean behind Topping Rose on how he helms his empire of over 40 restaurants worldwide—and always keeps it fresh.
Longines Master Collection watch, longines.com
WHEN DID YOU FIRST FALL IN LOVE WITH COOKING? As a child, my mother used to cook for everyone who worked in my father’s business and I was known as the taster. Then for my 16th birthday, my parents took me to Auberge de l’Ill, and that was the moment I fell in love with cooking.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE TURNING POINT IN YOUR CAREER? I was classically trained, and with that I was taught to use stocks and demi glazes for everything. I started to explore using vegetable juices and herbal oils as an alternative, and once I realized that it was tasty and substantially healthier, everything changed in the way I cooked from that point.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SECRET IS TO BEING SUCCESSFUL AS A CHEF? Quality and consistency.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO PREPARE FOR YOURSELF WHEN COOKING AT HOME? I like a one-pot meal—my go-to is cacio e pepe. In the last five minutes of cooking I add an egg to the pasta, then mix it together with the cheese and pepper.
WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE OF YOUR PATRONS ORDERED AT YOUR RESTAURANTS? OR WHAT FOODS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE COME BACK IN FASHION? I like when people share multiple courses and dishes. It’s a style of eating that I personally enjoy; you can get a taste of everything.
I would like to see larger-format preparations and cooking on the bone to come back. An example would be the black bass en croûte, which I serve at The Fulton in NYC. What is the best advice you ever received? Keep it simple but flavorful.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU GIVE TO HOME COOKS? Season with your senses and with the seasons.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE MEAL OF YOUR LIFE? I would have to say the first Thai meal I had when I landed in Bangkok in 1980. My whole palate was opened to new flavor profiles, spices and techniques, such as the use of lemon grass, anise and fish sauce.
YOU HAVE SO MANY RESTAURANTS ALL OVER THE WORLD, HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF IT ALL? It’s all about the people I work with, my team. I visit my global restaurants four times a year to reconnect with the teams, try new dishes and explore new restaurants. We have bi-weekly calls to ensure that the communication is open and that we’re updated with what’s happening in the restaurants. Trust is very important to me and with restaurants around the world, it’s imperative to build strong connections and trust.
WHAT NEWS CAN WE BUZZ FOR TOPPING ROSE THIS SEASON, AND WHAT PROJECTS ARE UP NEXT FOR YOU? Topping Rose has a new outdoor patio, which is the perfect place to enjoy a chilled cocktail or glass of rosé and share some dishes with friends or family.
We have some exciting projects coming up, small and large. We are opening the Tin Building next year, a 60,000-square-foot food hall in the heart of The Seaport. I am trying to re-create a piece of New York history and bring back the essence of the New York I fell in love with years ago. We are also opening a nine-seat Ryokan in Kyoto. Very exciting.
We polled the Topping Rose tastemaker for his daily dish.
A cookbook called The Encyclopedia of Practical Gastronomy by Ali-Bab
It’s not a podcast per se, but I enjoy listening to and watching Michael Ruhlman’s Friday Cocktail Hour on Instagram. Honestly, I am always in the restaurants, so I don’t have a lot of time to listen to podcasts.
A blend of classic rock to rap.
Breakfast is never the same for me. It can range anywhere from pancakes to berries and yogurt. My favorite breakfast is a piece of toast from Bread Alone Bakery with butter and Bonne Maman’s Intense jams.
I eat lunch every day with the team, and it’s always fish and vegetables. I go to the Union Square Farmers Market every Wednesday morning and pick up vegetables, which is incorporated into what I’m having for lunch that day.
I like to eat at and explore new restaurants for dinner. Recently, a lot of restaurants have opened in New York, so I have been exploring them. However, some nights I visit my restaurants in the city for dinner when I want to try something new or when I have a craving for a certain dish.
WHAT’S THE MOST UNUSUAL THING WE WOULD FIND IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR?
Fermented black pepper called Break Pepper from Japan. It has such a strong flavor and goes perfectly in dishes like cacio e pepe and eggs.
Any Alsatian or white Burgundy.
FAVORITE DISH TO EAT?
A dish I like to call ‘The Potatoes That Taste Better Than the Chicken.’ I love cooking the chicken over a bed of potatoes so that the potatoes absorb the juices from the chicken.
FAVORITE DISH TO PREPARE?
The whimsical black bass en croûte.
DESSERT OF CHOICE?
A fruit tart or any kind of sundae. I love apricot, strawberry and plum tarts and all kinds of sundaes, whether it’s caramel, strawberry or chocolate.
WHAT FOOD WILL YOU NOT EAT?
I eat anything and everything.
MOST UNUSUAL THING YOU EVER ATE?
Definitely water rat curry.
FAVORITE FARM STAND IN THE HAMPTONS?
Pike Farms—I like to wake up on a summer morning and pick up some strawberries.
FAVORITE BEACH IN THE HAMPTONS?
Bridgehampton Beach, Two Mile Hollow, Sammy’s Beach. I really love to bike from Topping Rose House down to Ocean Road Beach.
FAVORITE WAY TO RECHARGE?
Paddleboarding in the summer and skiing in the winter.
Photography by: PHOTOGRAPHED BY ZEV STARR-TAMBOR