Having discovered an interest in cooking at the mere age of 12, young chef Flynn McGarry has grown to become one of the up-and-coming stars on the global gastronomic stage. Now at the helm of his own restaurant Gem on New York’s Lower East Side, McGarry has a permanent outlet to communicate his allure for cooking.
“I like to know a lot about food,” says McGarry, seated in the back-space of Gem, known as the living room. Cooking through cookbooks over and over has been a thing for McGarry since childhood where he hosted his first pop-up restaurant, Eureka, in his mother’s home. Now, McGarry uses his self-taught palette of flavors to create dishes that are as tastefully stimulating as they are visually enticing.
On his approach to cooking, McGarry notes: “I never want to stop learning. There’s always more to learn. To me, it’s not about being crazy knowledgeable about this produce or that technique—it’s about the opportunity to constantly explore new ingredients, methods and ways of thinking,” and adds “It’s rare that I show my nerdiness though I’ve made it a point for myself to always know as much as possible about the elements of my work.”
“Having a nerdy obsession with each and every aspect of food, even the less charming ones, rather than focusing on the more glamorous sides of the industry has been helpful in staying humble and getting an in-depth understanding of all the things that go into making a dish come to life,” explains McGarry.
Looking towards the kitchen where chefs are prepping for the night’s service, McGarry ponders: “Striving to know everything about your work keeps you excited about what you do, stimulating you to explore new paths and ways of doing things. You need a constant yearning for new knowledge in order to move forward.”
Visit Flynn McGarry at his restaurant Gem on 166 Forsythe Street, New York, NY 10002.
Imagery by Simon Heger Knudsen.