Chef and designer Angela Dimayuga has many interests. Here are a few: nighttime culture, fermentation (she made Kombucha from her apartment in 2007), hot springs, humanities, history. She’s kind of a history buff. So when The Standard Hotel CEO Amar Lalvani chose Dimayuga to be the Creative Director of Food and Culture for the East Village location in 2017, she dived headlong into the annals of the boutique hotel chain.
“I’m interested in the fact that it’s south of Cooper Union, just west of the hardcore East Village, which has historical roots in punk and the HIV epidemic,” says Dimayuga, sitting in a chair. in wood and leather at the Café Standard. Her hair is dyed red and slightly pushed back, and she makes unwavering eye contact with whoever she’s talking to. “[The Standard] the restaurants were also still taking care of the nightlife. The locations in Los Angeles were 24 hour restaurants for a while.
“As for food spaces now, I’m allowed to completely rewrite this. “
As Creative Director of Food and Culture – a bit sprawling title, but created just for her – Dimayuga is tasked with “evolving spaces that need attention, or new spaces for new openings. “, she says. This includes work on the opening of the London site; cutting the ribbon on its new No Bar, a gay bar in the hotel’s former Narcbar space that bowed at the end of February, and calling on a group of collaborators to contribute to The Standard East Village’s new offerings.
Contributors include Max Blachman-Gentile, the experimental baker-chef who runs the hotel’s new bread program and creates a new menu. (“He makes a naturally fermented sourdough bread inspired by that Jewish dish called kasha varnishes,” Dimayuga said animatedly. “This is buckwheat pasta and is often baked with chicken fat, so he makes a loaf of bread. buckwheat with chicken fat.) He and Dimayuga also come up with a concept to hold a farmers market in the hotel garden. The same bread served on the plates at Narcissa, the hotel’s restaurant, will be sold at the market.
Then there are Andrew Carter and Adam DeMartino, the co-owners of Smallhold Farms, a company that designs and builds small-scale indoor mushroom farms. Carter and DeMartino set up a mushroom farm at Mission Chinese while Dimayuga worked there as an executive chef, but the 15-foot farm that will live above the Café Standard’s liquor cellar is a whole different area.
“The Standard Hotel unit has advanced cooling components inside and different lighting that allows it to grow over 10 different species of mushrooms,” DeMartino said on a phone call. with Carter. “From a technical point of view, it further pushes the spectrum of cultivable mushrooms [in terms of] variety.”
Plus, both can collect huge amounts of farm data, which is activated with sensors that track the climate and health of the fungi.
“It’s connected through a cellular network,” says Carter. “We can say a lot about the mushrooms themselves without actually being there. “
The mushrooms, which will be grown in a futuristic-looking box lit by blue fluorescence, will also be sold at the farmer’s market – and room service menu items will also contain the mushrooms.
“We can produce mushrooms in-house [for which] we don’t use cellophane wrapping, we can save costs because we don’t import mushrooms from another location that are trucked in, ”says Dimayuga. “On the chef’s side, we have access to the freshest mushroom. Because even though I buy mushrooms at the Union Square Green Market for $ 40 a pound, by the time I bring them here, they’ve already lost a lot of their integrity just by being in a paper bag. A quarter of the mushrooms we grow, we want to sell them to the immediate community. If you are coming to buy bread, you might want to buy these mushrooms in pre-weighed bags.
Finally, there is Dimayuga’s longtime friend Arielle Johnson, whom she brought in her know-how for the fermentation box. The two met at the Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, where Johnson worked as a flavor chemist and in-house doctoral student. (She studied at MIT, then became director of the university’s Media Lab.) They got passionate about fermentation – making yogurt, kombucha, miso.
“A few years ago, I started working at MIT,” Johnson says. “Angela was going down to Cambridge and we were adapting some of the control technologies that other people in my group were developing. You had to make a small form factor fermentation box prototype. When she started working at The Standard it was like, “We have to put something here so that chefs can explore the potential for fermentation with New York State and local ingredients.”
The Standard will house a large refrigerator-sized fermentation box that will serve as the fermentation chamber for Max’s bread, as well as the starting point for sake, miso, soy sauce, and amazake alcohol.
“I can apply my science training to cultural, gastronomic and creative issues,” adds Johnson. “And that’s actually because of Angela’s different perspective, her artistic experiences and her sensitivity – it might be easy to think of her as not looking like that, but she’s one of the most smart, if not the smartest I work with. “
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