Jon Bignelli knows how to take a load off--and it usually involves the hammock strung up in his Brooklyn living room and a cold tall boy.
And it's a good thing, too--this chef has been mighty busy over the last decade. A degree in cultural anthropology and absolutely zero formal training led to a job at Aquavit with Marcus Samuelsson, and then to Wylie Dufresne's Wd~50.
Now, Bignelli spearheads the kitchen at the East Village's brand-new Alder, where the gonzo modern techniques of Wd~50 are fused with the flavors of pub cooking.
From Bignelli's mind comes shrewd handiwork. There's shaved pastrami in skeins of rye pasta ($18), little sails of crispy chicken skin stuck onto chicken liver and cornbread ($17), and a straightforwardly delicious oxtail stew with fried plantains ($21).
When we visited Bignelli at home, we witnessed the hammock in action, found out about his go-to jarred pasta sauce, and discovered a mother lode of spices (see it all in our slide show).
Bignelli even shared a recipe for his favorite day-off dish: his immensely gratifying take on Singapore chow fun, crammed with curry powder, coconut milk and rice noodles.
Alder diners will soon benefit from Bignelli's home cooking--the chow fun, in sandwich form, is destined for Alder's forthcoming brunch menu.