Slide into a seat at the chef’s counter in some of the country’s hottest restaurants, and you’ll see cooks slicing and dicing vegetables, tossing pastas, and grilling meats over a wood-burning fire. A constant hum of movement and chatter follows the kitchen staff and spills across the counter to guests, who watch the show and enjoy the resulting dishes in one holistic experience.
For guests, chef’s counters provide unique access to the people and processes behind the food. But what is it like on the other side?
We talked to Joshua McFadden, Chef at Ava Gene’s in Portland, along with Chef Daniel Eddy of New York City’s Rebelle, for an inside look at operating a restaurant with a chef’s counter. (For both chefs, the restaurants’ chef’s counters were happy accidents — not features they planned for, but consequences of the spaces and layouts.) Here are five lessons they’ve learned along the way.