We all have preconceived ideas of living in New York. Grand dreams of ‘making it’ amidst an impending tide of hustling humans. Australians in particular are drawn to live out this formative experience beneath big city lights and the constant hum of a town that never sleeps. But, it seems the city of dreams has its own particular penchant for Aussies at the moment – our relaxed and upbeat vibe, the smashed avos on toast and let’s not forget, our bang on ability to whack out good coffee.
We caught up with a few personalities in hospo to find out how they came to the big city and why they love it so much.
FRANKIE COX – Private Chef
It’s impossible to not like Frankie Cox, she has a perpetually cheery disposition, which is perhaps why she’s fared so well in the city of unmerciful bad manners – though my bets are simply on the fact she’s just really damn good at what she does.
Wanting to pursue a career in cooking from a young age, Frankie immersed herself in a culinary environment. “At 21, I spent a couple of months in New York doing culinary short courses at the Institute of Culinary Education as well as stages. I was instantly drawn in by the city’s energy. I knew that this was where I wanted to put my head down and learn from the challenging environments of New York City kitchens.”
At 25, Frankie headed up Australian restaurant, Two Hands in Tribeca as their Executive Chef – she built the kitchen, wrote the menu and lead the team.
“4.5 years on in NYC, at 28, I am now a private chef. Private cheffing allows me to discover new cultures and ingredients and build new relationships in the places that my job takes me to. I have been traveling for the most part of the last 12 months, New York, LA, London and the south of France. This year I’ll be spending more time in New York.”
What I love about New York hospitality: It is such a diverse mecca. There are always people everywhere, at all times of the day, going off to different things and that opens up the possibility for so many different concepts in hospitality offering.
Top 3 spots: Wildair – high tops, small plates and natural wine. Always in for a good night. Frenchette – new comer to Tribeca, everything is spot on. King – daily changing menu. The food here is so honest. Simple, yet perfectly executed. It’s hard not to love it.
Biggest Highlight: Earlier this year, I was the guest chef of the National Governors Association Winter Meet/the celebration of 100 years of Mateship between Australia and the US held at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC.
NICK & LEON – Little Collins, Midtown
Entering Little Collins, there’s no doubt why owners Nick and Leon have made such a mark. New Yorkers, with most likely places to be, line the sidewalk outside their midcity location, merely a hole in the wall, thoughts of coffee dripping from their lips. If you’re lucky you can grab one of four window seats, enjoy your brew out of finely selected Japanese ceramics and watch the world go by. If you’re like me you’ll top it off with a delicious haloumi gyro.
Nick and Leon met towards the end of 2009, working at a specialty coffee shop called Kaffe 1668 in Tribeca, New York – both having just embarked on huge career changes. After going their separate ways to pursue different paths within hospitality, they reunited in 2013 when Little Collins was opened, they have just recently opened their third location. It’s important to note that Nick is actually from New Zealand but we’ll forgive him just this once.
What’s great about hospitality in New York: The food landscape in New York is very exciting. The talent pool is amazing and there are some really incredible restaurant operators in the city. I love the sheer choice you have on any given day. The options are so great and numerous that I hate wasting a meal in the city.
Top 3 spots
Leon – Estela, the bar at Marta, Via Carota, Momofuku Ssam – and so many others that should have been included in this list.
Nic – Bessou, Faro, and Roberta’s.
Find them at: Little Collins – 667 Lexington Ave, New York, NY
TANA TURNBULL-HARDWICK – House Manager, Habitas
If you want to learn straight up about New York hospitality, then pull up a seat, grab a glass of wine and settle in for a chat with Tana. Having worked at institutions like Il Buco, Alimentari, Mobys and managed Red Rooster and Ginny’s Supper Club, Tana knows what it means to provide great hospitality in a city like New York and she doesn’t mess about.
“In this city, food is essential, the management is essential, the service is essential, but if those things are still fantastic and you as a customer have a shitty experience at the door because someone doesn’t know what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble. Businesses don’t last long around here if they can’t get it right.”
With all her experience, it’s no wonder Tana now champions the Habitas clubhouse in midtown – the New York flagship from the global Habitas hospitality company that’s changing the way we travel. The clubhouse is one of the company’s most recent additions; a membership based meeting point for the globally like-minded that focuses on creating deeper human connections.
“Service is all about the client, guessing what they like, what they don’t like, how they want to be approached and talked to, if they don’t want to be talked to. You need to be a social expert. It’s all about the experience and personal connection you’re responsible for creating.”
Top 3 Spots
1. Habitas (where I work now)
2. Grand Banks for an afternoon rose in Summer
3. Chinese Tuxedo
Biggest highlight: There is something new and challenging happening every day. This city is non-ageist/non-sexist and you can reinvent yourself at any age.
Find her at: Habitas, 240 W 30th St, New York, NY 10001, USA
JOSH & NICK – BANTER, Greenwich Village
Banter is a top spot for many in Greenwich Village. It’s a charming sight with old bi- folding doors that open up onto the porch area facing the street, a calm pastel colour scheme complementing the high quality coffee and food offering. You can sit out the front with your morning cup and watch a variety of neighbourhood characters walk by, including their doggos.
Both Josh, from Melbourne and Nick from Sydney, moved to New York three years ago with big hospo dreams in their sights. “My dream was always to start a neighborhood cafe that no one else was doing in the area,” said Josh. While Nick wanted to use the city to grow his own skills and “leverage its constant inspiration to help develop the vision for my very own restaurant”.
Fate intervened and brought them together and Banter has become a favourite pit stop for locals and tourists alike. Josh and Nick are now looking to take on a second location.
What I love about hospitality in New York: Nick – New York is a global hub for hospitality with some of the finest and most amazing culinary and dining experiences.
Top 3 spots
Nick – Wild Son, Chez Ma Tante, Extra Fancy
Josh – Lilia Aria Joseph Leonard
Biggest highlights: Seeing something grow from nothing. Positive feedback from our customers will never get old. Opening for dinner was a huge step also as it was never part of the original concept. It was a big achievement for Banter and everyone involved.
Find them at: Banter – 169 Sullivan St, New York, NY
LIANA OSTER – Head Bartender, Dante – Greenwich Village
Liana Oster worked in hospitality where she grew up in Shepparton, Victoria before moving to Melbourne in between travelling. But, it wasn’t until doing a Masters in Clinical Exercise Physiology that she picked up bar work again for some extra cash. When she travelled to New York, she immediately fell in love with the place, came home, sold her car and got a visa.
“I’ve learnt that no matter what city you live in there is a little hospitality community where everyone knows each other and supports you, even if its something tiny, everyone is a part of the community in one way or another. Everyone who moves to New York is working at this insane pace, if you can hack it I think that’s a credit in itself. In saying that, I love the pace of the city, the lifestyle, it’s fast and hectic and always exciting. New York has been incredibly good to me.”
What’s exciting about Aussies in New York: There’s such a welcoming and relaxing presence when you go into a place and here an Aussie accent. In saying that, there has been a serious increase in the amount of “aussie” coffee shops in the city – which is amazing and makes me very happy!
Top 3 spots: The Four Horsemen, Olmstead, Wild Air
Bit of advice: Thinking that you can just fly over and pick up a job isn’t realistic. You definitely have to do your research, most places in New York won’t hire you if you’ve never worked in the city before so you also have to be prepared to weather down at the start. In saying that, networking is such a big part of this city as well, keep in contact with people, you never know when they might be able to help you out.
Find her at: Dante, 79-81 Macdougal St, New York, NY
PAUL ALLAM – Bourke Street Bakery, Nomad
Paul Allam has always loved New York City, wanting to live and breathe some Brooklyn air for a few years now. So bringing iconic Bourke Street Bakery, which is slated to open in late October in Nomad, to a city that is always looking for and embracing difference seemed a no-brainer to him and business partner, David.
“I love that anything seems possible in New York, the endless enthusiasm. The way that separate worlds converge within a mile block radius that you can be a New Yorker almost instantly with the right attitude and belief. I love the city’s multi-cultural and international landscape with food to match. I like that other hospo business will open doors and be welcoming as everyone feels there is room for everyone else.”
What I love about Aussies in New York hospitality: That it lifts everyone up and creates more interest in what we as Australia’s have to offer. From an educational point Australians’ have really added to the coffee cafe culture creating more people who appreciate fresh food and amazing coffee.
Top 3 spots: I love Brooklyn crab to hang out and have a drink on a spring / summers day. Hometown bar b que in Redhook for a great smoke house, La Esquina on Kenmare for a street side taco, Superiority burger for the best vege burger you will ever have and Estela for some high end food brilliance in a pretty cas setting.
Advice: Take your time to find the site that bests suits your business. Don’t try and fit into NYC too much trust in your product…..but that’s advice without any evidence. Come back and ask me in a year.
Find them at: Bourke Street Bakery NYC, 15th E 28th st Flatiron