The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2015

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1 18  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2015 If anyone ever told Jo-Ann Makovitzky she couldn't do something, she didn't get that memo. The native New Yorker who first set foot in a working kitchen at age 15, has—with her husband, Chef Marco Moreira—built up a small empire of well-regarded restaurants in the Union Square neighbor- hood of downtown Manhattan. She is one of the few women in the city to have such a command. Trained at Hyde Park's Culinary Institute of America, she was one of the few early women to work in a classic French kitchen. But she had another itch to scratch. "I saw the culinary boom of the '80s when there was high- end French and old-school Italian—that's what dominated," she recalls. In 2000, she and the Brazilian-born Moreira opened Tocqueville, a high-end French restaurant without the attitude or the sticker shock of the usual fare. "Restaurants have become much more social with a big- ger expression of ownership," she says, noting a shift from 'fine dining' to places where people can entertain and be entertained. Now the couple owns 15 East, a Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant, which they followed with an ambitious project in the new Hyatt Hotel: three adjacent eating and drink- ing establishments—The Fourth, an American brasserie; Singl Lounge, a bar dedicated to single malt whiskies and single-vineyard wines; and Botequim, an updated take on Brazilian cuisine. She sees her clutch of restaurants as "Union Square meets East Village"—a crossing where dining and fresh ingredi- ents (the city's largest green market is a block away), meet art and innovation. "We wanted to open to a broader market," Makovitzky says. "It's about pushing the envelope and being non-conform- ing." Hers is a lofty goal in a fast-changing neighborhood of national chain retailers. Yet, only two blocks from the heart of downtown—a lively square known for activists, radicals, musicians and farmers of all walks—she hopes her new restaurants will reflect that flavor—literally and figuratively. Being in the Hyatt, she says, gives her an opportunity to test new ground and break convention—even within the envelope of a global hotel chain. "New York is my town and I love welcoming tourists here," she says. "Being here, I can connect with the world." TAKING INVENTORY WITH . . . Nantucket— that's home as much as New York, if not more. Making coffee. It starts the day; if I could be a barista all day long, I would. I am an oyster and Champagne freak. Bergdorf Goodman: the service and goods are inspiring. Central Park. Bad or cheap by-the-glass programs and low pours. Swerving taxi drivers. Ridiculously small portions. Overcompli- cated dishes. People who say "No." THE "5" LIST JO-ANN MAKOVITZKY'S TOP FIVE FAVES JO-ANN MAKOVITZKY'S TOP FIVE PET PEEVES JO-ANN MAKOVITZKY PHOTO: LANA BORTOLOT CO-OWNER, 15 EAST RESTAURANT, NYC by Lana Bortolot

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