MAKERS & MUSES

CHEFS

Culinary artists from top NYC
restaurant ACME in their favorite pieces.

 

“ACME is the first collaboration between Jean-Marc Houmard, Huy Chi Le of Indochine and Tijuana Picnic and Jon Neidich of The Happiest Hour. These restaurateurs wanted to create a modern bistro that was sexy and fun while boasting excellent food. They reached out to me—I had opened Noma and had my own Michelin star restaurant, MR, in Copenhagen, and convinced me to move to New York to become the chef. It’s been an amazing journey. New York has become my new home.”

Mads Refslund
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MADS REFSLUND EXECUTIVE CHEF Paint us a picture of what a typical night at ACME looks like.

We are always busy. Even if it’s not the most crowded night, we are working hard, conceiving of dishes for the next night. I have an incredible team in the kitchen at ACME and it’s been great to watch them grow and learn.

What is the concept at ACME?

The concept is that I am bringing my new Nordic mentality and creativity to a New York bistro. “New Nordic” is really a philosophy more than a cuisine. It’s about looking for inspiration everywhere and not being limited by traditional ingredients or presentation. My dishes tend to tell a story, and it’s usually linked to nature—a place, a time, a memory.

How do you approach your daily style?

Comfort is important because I am on my feet and running around all day from the market to the restaurant, but admittedly I also really like clothes. Jeans and a nice t-shirt in the summer, then sweater and leather jacket in the winter.

What do you like most about Club Monaco?

What I like most about CM is its versatility. It feels at once classic and modern… like I could walk into any restaurant — fancy or relaxed — and feel I was dressed appropriately, and at the same time, feel like myself.

 
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SHAUN WIDGER CHEF DE CUISINE What are your three favorite ingredients to work with and why?

1. Fish Sauce: When used correctly and wisely, it can add a depth of flavor to a dish to achieve that “umami” state.
2. Seaweed: Fresh or dried, they hold so much versatility, from adding that fresh salinity and a unique textural element to a dish, to making an intense broth.
3. (Acid) vinegar, citrus, ferments: I naturally lean towards dishes with a higher acidic note, so when it comes to creating a plate, that’s something that will somehow play a role as it adds a sense of “roundness” or balance to a dish.

In what way does your personal style influence both your sartorial choices and the way you cook?

My personal style has evolved over the last ten years due to constant moving and living in numerous countries, such as Japan, Denmark and the US. Living out of a suitcase has really simplified my sartorial choices due to a basic lack of space. This same issue has refined my cooking over the years. I use only what is necessary with no un-needed ingredients for “show.”

What is special about ACME?

ACME is special in that it has never stopped evolving in a way that still manages to impress customers and allows staff to grow.

Can you describe the dish you prepared for us?

French breakfast radish with an oyster and parsley emulsion. We take the basic principle of making a mayonnaise and make it our own — we use a parsley oil and substitute the eggs for oysters. The final dish is a nice contrast of a rich emulsion with good salinity and a clean, crisp radish.

 
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RYAN KEELAN SOUS CHEF When not at work (or in your home kitchen), where do you enjoy eating?

If I’m not working or cooking at home, I enjoy very comfortable food. I frequent Papaya Dog, Le Burger Joint, Mamoun's, as well as most ramen shops. If it’s date night or I’m looking to get a little fancy, I love Little Prince, Luksus, or The Musket Room. They all have incredible chefs running the show.

What’s your favorite dish currently at ACME?

The crispy salmon skin with cucumber is a stroke of genius and is extremely delicious. It’s my favorite and always has been.

Other than the locally-sourced ingredients, in what ways does ACME draw influence from the energy and style that makes up New York?

As a chef at ACME, I’ve found that we pull energy and style from NYC by employing an eclectic group of motivated and driven cooks from all over the world. As one of the only Americans and the only one from the tri-state area, I find it very interesting to have our own “melting pot” of a kitchen staff to progress and better our food!

 
 
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