Fonda (Park Slope). Photo: Tagger Yancey IV
By many measurements, New York City is one of the best dining destinations in the world. This is where master chefs from France and Italy come to be global superstars. It’s where street foods like pizza, bagels and hot dogs were perfected; where American haute cuisine became elevated to an art; and where you can taste the culinary contributions of the entire world.
As it turns out, many of our greatest chefs are part of another group: the LGBTQ+ community. These notable gay and lesbian chefs have created some of NYC’s most beloved foodie institutions. Check out a few of these culinary stars and their contributions below.
Photo: Jin Franco
Chef: Cesar Moreno
Restaurant: The Americano
Cesar Moreno is a pastry chef whose work at Hotel Americano has created some of our favorite sweet treats anywhere in NYC. Moreno, formerly of the popular Gardenia in the West Village, brings inventiveness to his desserts and pastries. While strolling the nearby High Line, it’s worth stopping into the Hotel Americano’s restaurant for one of his delectable inventions.
Chef: Bari Musacchio
Restaurant: Baz Bagel & Restaurant
In early 2014, fresh off a successful stint as general manager of the wildly popular Rubirosa, Bari Musacchio decided to open a bagel shop on the Little Italy stretch of Grand Street. The chef-entrepreneur-restaurateur’s latest venture was a hit, and Baz Bagels has become a carb-y cornerstone of the area. The bagels are made fresh daily on-site and have earned critical raves. Of course, Musacchio does more than just bagels: she also serves up breakfast classics like French toast along with some classic Jewish favorites like smoked fish and matzo ball soup.
Chef: Renato Poliafito
Poliafito and his business partner, Matt Lewis, opened their first Baked bakery in Red Hook back in 2005, way before the rough-hewn Brooklyn hood became a trending hipster outpost. After word got out about their delicious treats and sinful layer cakes, they expanded to Manhattan with a Tribeca location in 2015. Their sweet snacks and stylish stores feature a wide range of cookies, cakes, brownies and pastries—with the chocolate pecan bourbon bar getting raves. They even have gluten-free options.
Roberto Santibañez, Photo: Sam Horine
Chef: Roberto Santibañez
Roberto Santibañez is a Mexico City–born prodigy who runs the kitchens at Fonda in Park Slope, Chelsea and the East Village, dreaming up haute Mexican dishes. He’s been a celebrated chef in Mexico City and Austin, Texas, and now has brought his flair and love for authentic Mexican cuisine to NYC, where his work has earned him a James Beard nomination; he’s also authored several cookbooks.
Chef: Brian Washington-Palmer
Restaurant: Sexy Taco/Dirty Cash
Brian Washington-Palmer’s influence in Harlem is undeniable. A recent venture, Sexy Taco/Dirty Cash, is a playful taco joint, a riff on San Francisco street food. Sexy Taco—it used to be called La Bodega 47 Social Club before it was closed and rebranded—has a loungy vibe, casual and messy like a food truck, but it’s still alluring enough for a date. And it serves some fantastic cocktails, too. (Also check out his latest, Ruby’s Vintage Harlem, a cocktail and wine bar.)