chefwatch

Nick Anderer Is the Acting Pooh-bah at Gramercy Tavern

Nick Anderer can expedite with the best of them.Photo: Melissa Hom

Each week, we highlight one of the great but obscure young chefs who are actually running one of the city's major restaurants.

Name: Nick Anderer

Age: 29

Restaurant: Gramercy Tavern

Background: Anderer put in time with New American pioneer Larry Forgione at the start of his career, followed by a short stint working the line at Babbo, and six months in Milan at the well-regarded San Giorgio et il Drago. He joined Gramercy as a line cook under Tom Colicchio and became executive sous-chef, the restaurant’s equivalent to chef de cuisine, under new chef Mike Anthony.

Self-described style: “Very rustic, very heavily Italian-influenced. Plates are composed, but with an eye toward the way food is actually eaten — no circles and dots and swooshes. The food is made well in the pan and put on the plate harmoniously.”

Why he's a comer: At most kitchens, “the grand pooh-bah stands at the front and expedites all the orders,” says Anthony. But at Gramercy, that job is Anderer’s. “He’s in charge most nights, actually pushing and pulling the strings. He knows every angle of the restaurant, which gives me a chance to move around the kitchen, keeping my hands on the food. It takes tons of smarts to get our kitchen to flow, but I trust him to be able to do it. He cooks from the heart.”

Judge him by: “The meatball is my dish,” Anderer says. Composed of twice-ground grass-fed beef and filled with a Fontina Val d'Aosta, “it has a core that has a funkiness that isn’t overpowering and melts at a slow, steady rate so that it’s an ooze but not a liquid.” Plated with a little beef jus, it’s one of the most popular things on the Gramercy Tavern menu.

Guesstimated time of arrival: “I’m about two years away from thinking about a project of my own. But until then I’m totally committed to Gramercy Tavern.” “I want to keep Nick cooking with me here forever,” says his boss.

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