The New York Diet

America Taught Jean-Georges About Breakfast; He Tells Us How to Cook Fish

Jean-Georges Vongerichten makes his own lunch at Jean Georges.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten makes his own lunch at Jean Georges. Photo: Melissa Hom

Jean-Georges Vongerichten plans to open ten new restaurants worldwide this year now that he and partner Phil Suarez have teamed up with Starwood Hotels, but he still devotes plenty of time to New York. A version of his Paris restaurant, Market, will open in the renovated Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side next fall. His presence is strong at Jean Georges, which helped the restaurant earn the 2009 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant of the Year. When in town, Vongerichten often prepares his own light lunches in the JG kitchen. “I want to live forever,” says the chef “I’m very disciplined for lunch and breakfast, and loose at night.” For this week’s New York Diet, see how he balances immortality with marrow bones at Minetta Tavern.

Saturday, May 9
I flew to Washington for my daughter’s graduation. Before that I started my day with some instant oatmeal — Quaker Oats — with a little milk, a little brown sugar. I love breakfast. I discovered breakfast in America. When I grew up in France, it was just yesterday’s bread, toasted. I have coffee in the morning.

Usually I eat very healthy. I cook for myself; I want to live forever. But for lunch, I wanted to try a soul food place called Georgia Brown. I had great fried chicken, grits, mashed potatoes, and honey.

That night, I went to CityZen in the Mandarin Oriental. I had a couple of dishes. I remember the meal in reverse. For dessert, we had a waffle with bacon — glazed with syrup so it was candied — on maple ice cream, a veal breast rolled with artichokes, some sea trout, and we had a potato soup to start.

We’re opening a restaurant in the W there in July, so I wanted to try a few places. I went for a second meal at a place called komi, with a very young chef. The food was delicious. A lot of raw dishes. It’s a prix fixe menu and the first seven dishes are raw, and then you choose a pasta and a main course. I started with a slice of turbot with a little sea salt and lemon, trout, oysters with a lemongrass sabayon that was brulée, and tartar of shrimp. Then I had the best pasta I had this year, with homemade spaghettini, crab meat, sea urchin, and Aleppo pepper. I had a crispy shoulder of baby goat for my main. I think he’s of Greek origin.

Sunday, May 10
The next day I did not have breakfast. After my daughter’s graduation, I took her to Tabard, a little inn, for an amazing brunch. They had a beautiful terrace outside. I had eggs Benedict with spinach and homemade fried doughnuts. I went to the gym Monday morning.

I came back at midnight and went to Matsugen and had some sushi and soba. I go every Sunday night; my younger daughter is a big fan of udon. It was my only healthy meal of the weekend.

Monday, May 11
I went to my office in Soho. I started with cappuccino, and had my new breakfast: toasted seven-grain toast and almond butter with quarter-inch sliced banana on top. I had a couple of those.

Monday lunch, I had a piece of arctic char at Jean Georges. When I’m in New York, I’m there every day. I steam it in a CVap at a very low temperature, 180 degrees, for five to six minutes. I ate that with some sautéed artichokes and a piece of lemon.

At dinner at 10, I went to a new Keith McNally restaurant, Minetta Tavern. I had tartar of beef and lamb, bone marrow; it was rich food. There were eight of us and we just shared things: the côte de bœuf for two, chicken, and guinea hen. The Black Label burger is amazing. We had soufflé to end; it was excellent.

Tuesday, May 12
My toast again.

For lunch, just black sea bass, steamed in the CVap, with sautéed spinach and olive oil. When I grew up my parents made me eat at the same time; I don’t snack, but I never miss a meal. I always have breakfast around 9 a.m., lunch around 3, dinner at 9:30 or 10.

At nighttime, I went to Matsugen for a plate of sushi.

Wednesday, May 13
Same toast.

I had a piece of chicken from the Jean Georges menu, but I changed the sauce because no butter for me at lunch, ever. It’s chicken breast sautéed with grated Parmesan on one side, instead of skin. I had that with white asparagus.

At night, I went to Perry St to try a couple of new dishes, like artichoke salad with a pickled vinaigrette. I like raw things; I tried Madai snapper sashimi, some of our homemade mozzarella with pickled rhubarb and arugula. They’re adding the dishes to the menu tomorrow.

Thursday, May 14
Toast. It’s so good.

For lunch, for the picture, I had CVap-steamed halibut with five kinds of herbs on top of green asparagus. If you don’t have a CVap, you can bake any fish at 200 degrees in a convection oven. Put a little olive oil and a drop of water on top so it will steam a little bit, and cook it for ten to fifteen minutes depending on the thickness. If no convection oven, put it in a regular oven at 250. The perfect piece of fish.

America Taught Jean-Georges About Breakfast; He Tells Us How to Cook Fish