Wylie Dufresne was born in 1970 in Providence, Rhode Island before moving to New York in 1977. In 1992 he completed a B.A. in philosophy at Colby College, Maine.â€¨After college, Wylie enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in New York and was then employed at Jo Jo’s from 1994 to 1997. He was then hired to work on the opening of Restaurant Jean Georges, eventually becoming the sous chef. In 1998 Dufresne was hired as chef de cuisine at Vongerichten’s Prime in The Bellagio, Las Vegas. In 1999 he left Prime to become the first chef at 71 Clinton Fresh Food, a 30-seat restaurant on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.â€¨
Dufresne opened wd~50 (named for the chef’s initials and the street address) in April of 2003, on Clinton Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. His partners in the venture are Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and restaurateur Phil Suarez. He is the winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Best Chef NYC award, American Chef and restauranteur who has redefined the culinary landscape with his careful attention to technique and thoughtful imagination. His restaurant wd~50 pushed American avant garde cuisine to the next level by combining a voracious curiosity with a careful attention to scientifically sound techniques and creative innovation. Wylie has worked in restaurants since the age of 11 and feels drawn to the team mentality and physicality of working in a professional kitchen. He compares the experience to playing professional team sports, which was always a personal aspiration. After spending years working with Jean-Goerges and perfecting classic French techniques, Wylie set out to find his own style and opened wd~50 to world wide acclaim. The dishes at wd~50 pushed diners’ perceptions of what food should look and taste like, and challenged cooks to always push for perfection by consistently asking the question, “why”? Wylie has always hoped that diners, cooks, and chefs walk away from wd~50 saying the experience made them think. After dominating the NYC restaurant scene, his newest restaurant Alder has continued in the tradition of sound technique framed by an insightful and witty creativity. On this episode of Evolutionaries on HeritageRadioNetwork.org, listen as Wylie tells how he went from the world of the classical French masters to one of the most respected and imitated chefs in the world. This program has been sponsored by The International Culinary Center.
“Asking “why” to make better food, understanding what an egg is made of, why green vegetables turn brown, what’s happening to the chicken, what does cooking an egg actually mean?” [11:25]
“I wanted to create a place where some of the answers can be on hand…we have helped come up with some answers” [12:17]
“Making a personal memory into something commercial is difficult…my grandmother might smell different than your grandma.” [15:29]
“Talk about what your doing, not where you are shopping.” [17:54]
“Whoever dies knowing the most, wins.” [21:33]
— Wylie Dufresne on Evolutionaries