Chef Andrew Carmellini has certainly been busy since his days as executive chef for Café Boulud, shaping dynamic and award-winning menus at his restaurant concepts under the NoHo Hospitality Group: Locanda Verde, The Dutch, Lafayette, Bar Primi, and Little Park.
From a family rich in food traditions, Chef Carmellini’s culinary passion is rooted in his childhood experiences in Seven Hills, OH. His enthusiasm grew in his family’s kitchen garden, and he developed respect for the values of technique and discipline by watching his mother grind wheat for home-baked bread. Carmellini’s grandmother encouraged him further when she gave him a copy of Jacques Pépin’s seminal La Methode.
His passion for cooking led him to study at the CIA. He spent his weekends cooking for former New York Governor Mario Cuomo in Albany. After graduating in 1991, Chef Carmellini began cooking at famed restaurateur Tony May’s San Domenico in New York City. Mr. May, impressed by his new chef’s talent and dedication, arranged for a six-month traveling apprenticeship in Italy. His Italian tour culminated in a stage at San Domenico in Imola under Michelin two-star chef Valentino Mercatelli.
Returning to the United States in 1992, Carmellini worked under Gray Kunz as chef de partie at Lespinasse. While there, he was again given the opportunity to exercise his love of travel. For six months he studied the cuisines of England and France and interned in some of Europe’s top kitchens.
In 1996, Chef Carmellini was named sous chef at Le Cirque. Two years later, in search of new challenges and greater responsibilities, he joined Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud. In 2000, Chef Carmellini was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine. The same year he won a James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef and was nominated as Best Chef in New York City by the foundation in both 2002 and 2004. In 2005, Chef Carmellini won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chefs in America.
Widely respected by his peers, Carmellini is a cook’s cook. Known in kitchen circles as A.C., Chef Carmellini has the reputation of being an encyclopedia of food. “He was that guy who knew everything,” says chef and restaurateur Mario Carbone ’00 who worked with Carmellini at Café Boulud. “He was, to us, pretty close to God. He definitely did it the old-school way. He only worked in great kitchens.” As Chef Carmellini puts it, “I wanted to run restaurants for other people, first. I wanted to have that practice.”
In 2006, Chef Carmellini moved to Madison Square Park and launched A Voce. As executive chef and partner, won his first Michelin star. In 2008, he co-authored Urban Italian: True Stories and Simple Recipes from a Life in Food, with his wife, Gwen Hyman. The pair published their second cookbook, American Flavor, in 2011.
Chef Carmellini’s longtime goal has been to own one French, one Italian, and one American restaurant in New York City. In 2009, Chef Carmellini opened Locanda Verde in Robert DeNiro’s Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca, where he serves his version of soul-satisfying urban Italian cuisine. In 2011, he opened The Dutch—Bar, Restaurant, and Oyster Room—where he serves up an eclectic menu of the foods based upon his early travels with his family. Later that year, he opened The Dutch inside Miami’s W South Beach Hotel, not far from where his grandfather had run The Surf Club.
In 2012, Chef Carmellini was asked to design the menus for the newly refurbished Public Theater, which includes the celebrated nightclub Joe’s Pub and The Library at the Public, a cocktail lounge. At the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, Chef Carmellini has multiple Sausage Boss locations serving Italian Link Pizzaiola and Cheddar Cheese Bratwurst to sports fans and concert attendees.
In April 2013, Chef Carmellini opened Lafayette, a French grand café and bakery on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Street, serving his seasonal, bistro-style cooking in a cinematic atmosphere. In May 2014, he opened Bar Primi, a corner pasta shop devoted to traditional primi piatti, prepared with non-GMO semolina and specialty ‘00’ flours, organic eggs, and family recipes. Bar Primi received a Bib Gourmand in the 2015 Michelin Guide for New York City.
On November 6, 2014, Chef Carmellini opened Little Park in the Smyth Hotel in Tribeca. The 85-seat corner restaurant’s focus is farm-to-fork. “I’ve been thinking a lot about consciously healthy cuisine and wanted to serve small and medium-size plates of globally inspired fare with an emphasis on seasonal veggies,” says Carmellini. The hotel is also home to Evening Bar, a speakeasy run by Chef Carmellini and team, tucked away behind the lobby’s fireplace. In October 2015, Esquire magazine named Little Park as one of the best restaurants of the year.
In January 2016, the Noho Hospitality Group announced the creation of a new restaurant at the 23-story William Vale hotel currently under construction in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The main restaurant, called Leuca, will feature Southern Italian fare with an emphasis on coastal cuisine. Leuca is slated to open in early fall 2016. Over the summer Chef Carmellini will debut Westlight, a rooftop bar serving craft cocktails. He will also be in charge of room service for the 183 room hotel and will develop and manage the food and beverage program for the event spaces. The hotel is slated to open this summer.