Why they killed it in 2015: There's no simple way to define the cooking at Wildair, a small casual restaurant from the owners of critical darling Contra, but there are few places in New York where we would rather pass an evening. A meal here is a succession of small plates like steak tartare with smoked cheddar, lightly battered fried squid and lemon slices with a squid-ink aioli for dipping, fresh-baked bread and glasses of unexpected natural wines.
How would you two describe your food? "New York cuisine. Simple, clean, focused on ingredients not technique."
What's your signature dish? Stone: "Razor clams, tripe, almond milk, dandelion."
What's been your biggest kitchen disaster? Von Hauske: "When I staged at Noma and pissed off the big man." Stone: "I spilled a rondeau of hot fat over my arm while lifting it and essentially melted my arm skin off."
Favorite meal of 2015? Von Hauske: "I got to do a dinner with some of my best friends at Aubergine in Carmel, and that must've been it. It was Ben Sukle from Birch, Jeremiah Stone from Contra, Justin Yu from Oxheart, Matt Orlando from Amass, Justin Cogley and Ron Mendoza from Aubergine, and myself. That was pretty incredible, so much good energy in one kitchen."
What's the most underrated ingredient, and how do you use it? Stone: "Fresh bay leaf. We like to roast meats with it, infuse with purées, cook with root veg."
Cake or pie? Von Hauske: "Tart." Stone: "Pie. Cake sucks."Next Chef