Amanda Freitag, The Harrison Restaurant, Tribeca, Manhattan, Chef, Chef Q&A, Chef Q and A, Chef Q & A, Recommendations, Insider Recommendations, New American, Cuisine, Jimmy Bradley, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Vong, Diane Forley, Verbena, Arpege, Paris, Tom Valenti, Cesca, Gusto, West Village, Bobby Flay, Iron Chef, Chopped, Judge, The Next Iron Chef


Chef Amanda Freitag has been at the helm of Jimmy Bradley’s The Harrison restaurant in Tribeca since 2007.  It was the opportunity she had been looking for to show her versatility as a chef. Coming in as the third chef in an established restaurant isn’t always the easiest position to be in, but chef Freitag had the right background and training to make the transition easy.

Her first job, after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, was with respected chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. From him, she learned to blend Southeast Asian ingredients with French techniques.

Her next job would be with a chef she cites as her mentor and friend, Diane Forley at Verbena. Diane taught Amanda the importance of using local, organic ingredients and introduced her to the greenmarket in Union Square.

After a brief stint in Paris in the kitchen of Arpege restaurant, Amanda worked alongside chef Tom Valenti at Cesca, and as the executive chef at Gusto in the West Village.

Since Freitag's arrival at The Harrison, she has received a two-star review from The New York Times, and some good airtime on Food Network. She battled Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America and had reoccurring role as a judge on Chopped.

Q & A (2010)

Q. You joined the Harrison as the third chef, what changes did you make when you took the reins?

A. Almost everything. I changed the entire menu, the pastry chef, and a majority of the kitchen staff.


Q. Jimmy Bradley described your parmesan fritters as your signature dish, would you say the same and why or why not?

A. In the beginning yes, but now I have created new signature dishes that suit me and The Harrison much better, like my raw beet salad.

Q. You worked with Diane Forley at Verbena, a restaurant devoted to local, organic ingredients. Now it seems everyone is using farm-to-table as a selling point, what took so long for fresh local food to become mainstream?

A. Unfortunately, what we forget is that restaurants are businesses and working with small purveyors and having to deal with the inconsistence seasonal changes can upset the uneducated customer. I think with greater consumer awareness, farm to table has become more well received.


Q. With everyone jumping on the greenmarket bandwagon, is there a risk the message will get watered down?

A. I think that message has so many layers that it would be very difficult for it to get watered down. Once you start buying locally, then you can consider getting back to the table with your family at mealtime and then consider your carbon footprint after that, and so on and so on. There is so much to learn from this message.


Q. Do you still shop the farmers’ markets and which vendors are your favorites?

A. I do shop the farmer’s market occasionally and deal directly with Guy Jones from Blooming Hill farm.

[See details.]

Q. What restaurants do you like to eat at on your own time, other than your restaurant or home?

A. The Waverly Inn where my dear friend John [DeLucie] is the chef [in May, 2010 chef John DeLucie left The Waverly Inn to open The Lion in the West Village] and Al di La Trattoria in Brooklyn because it is so delicious!

[See details.]

Q. Favorite off the beaten track place to eat, that you’d be excited to take an adventurous eater?

There is this great Korean BBQ place in Koreatown but the name totally escapes me…oops! I guess it will remain a secret.


Q. Who in your field is doing work you respect?

A. Bill Telepan, he does a lot of work with the NYC schools for better food for the kids.

Q. You've worked along some notable big named chefs, what did you learn from each and how do you incorporate it into your current situation?

A. I learned so much from every chef I have worked with, even if it was for a short time. I think if you look at my menu today you could make a “family tree” per se and connect each dish to an influential chef in my past.


Q. What’s the most unexpected thing you have in your refrigerator or cupboards?

A. Scotch bonnet peppers, I was going to make this hot sauce at home and I have not gotten to it yet.


Q. What surprised you the most about appearing on television?

A. I was surprised by the amount of people who watched the show and were rooting for me.


Q. Chefs are clamoring to be on TV these days, what is your advice for them?

A. To young chefs, I would say learn how to cook and get your experience in the kitchen before going on TV. The camera does not lie, if you can’t cook it shows very clearly on TV. And to other chefs I would say try it. It is not for everyone, but it is a whole new side to our field that should not be ignored.


Q. Has there been a meal you ate recently, outside of your own restaurant and home, that made you pause with awe? (In a good or bad way)

A. I had an amazing meal at Marc Forgione’s restaurant. I was so pleasantly surprised by his passion and skill with food and his desire to create an experience. It is so nice to see someone standing their ground and saying this is the food I want to serve, this is my vision and to not be influenced by trends or fads. He is a chef that absolutely should be watched and everyone should go experience his food.

[See details.]

Q. What city, country or region is most exciting to you to travel to for eating and drinking? 

A. Italy.


Q. What is your least favorite new culinary trend?

A. Burgers (even though I love them, enough already).


Q. Pig and farm-to-table were big trends last year, any predictions for this year?

A. Vegetarian high-end cooking.

Q. You’ve cooked at many Italian focused restaurants in the city, where do you like to go for Italian food?

A. Emillio Ballato’s.

[See details.]

Q. Looking back on your career so far, what are the three words you would use to describe your experience?

A. Diverse, exhausting, inspiring.


Details of Amanda Freitag’s recommendations on where to eat in Manhattan and Brooklyn.


- Sautéed Foie Gras with Pear Chutney

- Beet Salad with Crushed Pistachios and Robiolina




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