Andrew Carmellini is the executive chef for A Voce restaurant in New York CIty. In 2000, Carmellini was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine. He also won the 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.
Question: How is the recession affecting your restaurant?
Andrew Carmellini: Yeah, you know, and it’s a pretty high-end restaurant, you know? And that wasn’t my intention when we opened. Originally, when I kind of like agreed in a partnership with one of my partners, in my mind I was opening up a Truveo, you know, I wasn’t the only person involved in the whole process of A Voce, and it kind of, there was some expectation about me going out on my own and, you know, I have a very strong customer base that was used to what I was doing before and I was really trying not to do what I was doing before, because I didn’t want Café Boulud II, I wasn’t interested in that. So I never was thinking A Voce was going to be a high-end restaurant, and, you know, pricing was really something from the beginning that I tried very, very, very hard to control, especially with pasta and things like that. And I still think for a three star level, we do a pretty good job on offering value. You know, we’re off, you know, we’re percentages off from last year, but it’s unfair to compare it because 2007 was an amazing year for us. I mean, at the end of 2006 we had Best New Restaurant in New York, nominated Best New Restaurant James Beard and Bruning put us on his dine around thing. So it was tremendous momentum we had. So it’s a little bit unfair to compare. But it’s still good, you know, we’re going to open up the terrace soon so that’s going to be, we’re going to be so busy. But, you know, it’s affecting everybody in every aspect. I think that inflation in the food pricing is definitely affecting us also, especially when I’m trying to— you know, because we look at the prices all the time as far as how we compare to my friends and competitors because I don’t want, you know, if Mike White up in Lempira’s, you know, I don’t want him to be charging $10.00 more for a similar type of item that we’re doing so we’ll always look, you know, to see where we stand. But, yeah, pricing you know, as you can see, especially with, because we use the European items, you know? You know, we’re using sheep milk ricotta from Sardinia, we’re using Italian flour, other Italian cheeses, you know, it’s-- the Euro really affects us, the flour pricing is starting to affect us and fuel, too, you know, I see purveyors charging fuel charges now. But it’s, you know, we still do our best to control it the best we can.