Hospitality Design - October 2015 - (Page 111)

special feature KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL chefs Meet eight inspring and innovative chefs currently changing the culinary game 2 1+2. Staged images of what the soon-to-becompleted design for Ninebark in Napa Valley will look like. 1 MATTHEW LIGHTNER Ninebark/AvroKO Hospitality Group West Becoming a chef "I basically started working with my brother and sister in a family-owned restaurant in my hometown outside of Omaha as a teenager out of necessity," Matthew Lightner says. At age 19, he moved to Portland, Oregon with his sister to pursue his dream. A self-described "horrible student," he opted to go to the Western Culinary Institute instead of a traditional college. His big break "After years of working really hard," in Portland and Southern California for various venerable chefs including Paul McCabe at L'Auberge in Del Mar, California, Lightner was awarded the Young Chefs Culinary Scholarship at age 27 and, as part of a select group of 15, went to the Basque country in Spain to work under Andoni Aduriz at Mugaritz. "What's not to love [about the experience in Spain]? They are so food forward and creative in everything they do, it's a beautiful landscape, and I got to work at one of the most progressive kitchens in the world." Finding success stateside After his two-year visa expired, Lightner moved back to Portland in 2009 at the height of the recession. Finding it "near impossible" to find a job, he bussed tables at his sister's restaurant until the executive chef role at Castagna became available. His focus on foraging for local foods there landed him on Food & Wine's 2010 Best New Chefs list, and earned him a James Beard nomination for Rising Star Chef in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, he took a chance on New York with Atera, an 18-seat, 18-course prix fixe space in Tribeca, and came away with two Michelin stars. "The food was very much my point of view-unbiased, serendipitous, but it pushed the limits by rediscovering things in a new way," he says. The challenges of such a small restaurant "Being small you have to produce a menu that is extraordinarily well executed. There was a lot of pressure to do so, every detail and every dish had to be life-changing," he explains. "It wasn't easy. Other restaurants would do 150 covers and 300 plates, and we were doing 36 covers and almost 1,000 plates." On recently forming AvroKO Hospitality Group West Lightner has partnered with New York-based AvroKO to launch AvroKO Hospitality Group West. He will helm all of the group's West Coast F&B venues, starting with Ninebark, which will open later this month in downtown Napa Valley in the former home of AvroKO's Thomas & Fagiani's. "It was time for a change, for me to do my own projects or with great collaborators, and I wanted to get back to the West Coast-my heart and soul are in West Coast products." Ninebark's sensibilities "It's three stories-a bar when you walk in, a kitchen and dining room on the second floor, and a third floor rooftop bar. I have worked on a lot of casual places, but my head has been in high-end dining for so long that it's nice to take a step back. The food is very accessible and approachable, but the operations are still run as if it is a high-end restaurant. We are looking at the vegetables we have out here and are redefining the salad bar. There will be a lot of layers and depth and flavor-somewhat familiar but with a lot of nuances." What diners want today "An experience and no more closed doors. Diners want to see the product, see the level of work that goes into it, and feel invited into the restaurant. It's not just a seat. [For the design,] I put my feet in guests' shoes, looking at what they will and won't see." On creating dishes "Whatever I produce just happens. It's not something you have to overly explain. You get the good product, and you just do it on the spot. That's what makes the food exciting." October 2015 111

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - October 2015

Hospitality Design - October 2015
Online TOC
From the Editor
From the Show Director
Business Sense: Industry Insight
Sustainable Studio: Open Farm Community
Trends: Suites
Trends: Fast-Casual Dining
5 Questions for John Simeonidis
Profile: Neri & Hu
Trends: Scandinavian Inspiration
Trends: Rose Gold
In the Room
Special Feature: Chefs
Platinum Circle
Gary Dollens
Kemper Hyers
Nobu Matsuhisa
HD Visionary Award: HBA
Margherita Saint-Germain
Le Lapin
The Continental
Scone City
I Love Paris
Ad Index
Back Space

Hospitality Design - October 2015