Fridge Files: Jon Bignelli

At home with Alder's executive chef
Tasting Table: Fridge Files

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.

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    Jon Bignelli grew up eating his father's meticulously prepared dinners. These days, Jon shepherds a blazing-hot restaurant, meaning he doesn't find himself with much free time to cook at home. Still, his fridge and cupboard revealed plenty of treasures.

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    Bignelli loves to shop at Kalustyan's and Dual Speciality for beluga black lentils and Persian figs, but admits that the majority of his spices are pilfered from the restaurant's kitchen.

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    We found tall boys of Coors, Gatorade, kombucha, leftover family meal from Alder (ramen noodles and broccoli soup), and plenty of cured meats from Bklyn Larder. Bignelli's essentials include Hellman's Mayonnaise, Philadelphia cream cheese and Rao's marinara sauce.

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    Chefs: They've got tiny apartment kitchens, just like you and me. Plus, they also keep Thin Mints in the freezer.

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    Bignelli's stocked bar. His go-to drink? Whiskey and tonic with a little citrus.

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    Bignelli's dog, Niko, on the hunt for something tasty to eat.

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    Bignelli's girlfriend's Hula-Hoops add some pizzazz to the apartment. On nights off, the two love to eat at Chuko, La Vara and Franny's.

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    On the left: The staff made this likeness of Bignelli for the announcement that he would be leaving Wd~50 to run Alder. On the right: Erin Jang's illustrations of some classic Wd~50 dishes, including cold fried chicken with buttermilk ricotta, Tabasco and caviar, and a peekytoe crab roll.

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    Bignelli relaxes in his hammock at his apartment, nicknamed the "House of Panda."

  • Singapore Chow Fun

    Get the recipe for Bignelli's Singapore chow fun.

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Alder 157 Second Ave. New York NY 10003 212-539-1900
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