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Eleven Madison Park.

Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux in town. United States,New York

Daniel Humm

Chef
Eleven Madison Park New York 10010

I was born in a village called Strengelbach and at the age of 14 began my first apprenticeship at Baur au Lac, which is on the Lake of Zurich. Four years of days in the kitchen, schooling, and tests of cooking and writing. My first three-star Michelin experience was at Le Pont de Brent, just above Montreaux. Six years ago, when I came to San Francisco to work at the Hotel Compton, I didn’t think of the United States as a food destination. From there, I was recruited by Danny Meyer to work in New York. Here at Eleven Madison Park, we serve pure and market-driven French cuisine. We use classic flavor combinations, and a mix of classic and modern technique.

I used to be on a Swiss mountain bike team and for awhile I had to make a decision: Cycling or cooking? So it was cooking. But I picked up marathons about four years ago. Two months ago, I finished the New York marathon in two hours and 51 minutes. That’s what relaxes and inspires me.


What was your most moving culinary experience?
Just growing up. My mom is a housewife. She cooks two meals a day. To come home from school guessing what it would be from the smells! One of my favorite dishes of hers is veal, served Zurich-style, with rösti. I also was lucky enough when very young to help out a farmer by going to a big market at two A.M. to watch everyone wheeling and dealing great food.

The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
A new line cook of ours was working mornings while finishing up culinary school at night. When she finally finished school, she went home after work one day and fell asleep. She then woke up a few hours later thinking it was the next morning, when she really had only been home for two hours sleeping. So she came running back, got dressed into her whites and apologized profusely for being late. Finally, I said 'You know, it's 8 P.M., not 8 A.M. tomorrow...you just left work a little while ago!'

Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Keep it simple and in season. Greater difficulty doesn't necessarily make it better.