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It’s hard to imagine a renowned chef, born and raised in one of the culinary capitals of the world, possessing a genuine affinity for a city other than his own; but for French chef Antoine Westermann, the concrete jungle truly is where dreams become reality.
“I don’t like New York, I love New York,” he says. “When I decided to open a restaurant in the United States, it could only be here.”
The idea for a stateside debut of famed Le Coq Rico evolved after an influx of requests from American tourists. It took nearly four years for Westermann and his team to gather the necessary resources, but the vision of a New York-based establishment became a reality in 2016.
“I took a lot of time to go the farms, to find a farmer and the best chickens,” he says. And while the Parisian and American menus aren’t entirely dissimilar, one standout difference comes from the restaurants’ namesake: chicken.
Taste and preparation certainly vary, but Westermann genuinely doesn’t have a preference for either location’s bird. In fact, he has made it abundantly clear that he prefers both varieties, so long as the chicken is older, sourced from a reputable farm, and—as a result—a more flavorful, tender, and “pleasurable” meat.
“The main word is pleasure, pleasure, pleasure. Eating [is] pleasure. The goal of cooking is to give pleasure to the people, friend[s], the customers who come and taste it,” he says.
When he’s not in the kitchen, Westermann experiences everything New York’s food landscape has to offer. “I always walk,” he says. “When you go out, you look around, you find the [all] kinds of restaurants in the world. It’s the best place to think about the musings in my brain.”
Now that Le Coq Rico has established itself among the city’s elite dining scene, here’s to hoping that this inspiration, among all of the city’s chaos and energy, continues to flourish. We can only imagine what the three Michelin star chef has up his sleeve next.
Stay tuned for more chef stories as part of Stella Artois’ Cuisine d’Auteur series that highlights the process of conceptualizing, creating, and elevating food to the level of art.