Fridge Files: Jon Bignelli

At home with Alder's executive chef

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.