We are a community of New York City dining room professionals that have come together to elevate our craft by supporting and collaborating with the current industry leaders while promoting, educating and informing the generations to follow.  

Founding Member Q&A

What does the New York City Dining Room Collaborative mean to you and what do you hope to accomplish through it?

Alex Wolf

Antonio Begonja
Per Se

Anthony Rudolf

Jeff Katz
Del Posto

Kirk Kelawae
Eleven Madison Park

Pierre Siue

Graceanne Jordan

Will Guidara
Made Nice
Alex Wolf: What it represents to me is a group that advocates for the importance of a service culture and the people who devote themselves to it in restaurants. New York City is amazingly vibrant and has a density of restaurants with flourishing service programs and professionals unlike anywhere. To see what happens when we come together is exciting. I personally would love for us to validate a career path that has a historical lineage and yet lacks a professional legitimacy outside the industry. Service is a craft and those people who have talent at it should be afforded due credit. Those people who are honing their craft should also have the ability to have a support system that offers supplemental education, role models, and a mentorship program.
Antonio Begonja: The collaborative is a great community of similar minded people. We care about our industry and the people in it. We have all been blessed to work in great restaurants and with greatness comes the responsibility to give back and mentor the future. I hope we can impact and define our industry.
Anthony Rudolf: Community. For me, the NYCDRC was born out of a desire in 2009 to find community when I took over as GM of Per Se. The world was new to me. I had never run a restaurant before and Per Se was going to be my first. That was crazy and amazing and phenomenally daunting and I didn’t have a connection with any of my peers in New York City. So we had an informal meeting with no name or agenda one morning in the East Room at Per Se with coffee and pastries from Bouchon. It was Philippe Vongerichten from Jean Georges, Ben Chekroun from Le Bernardin, Will Guidara from Eleven Madison Park and Nicolas Fanucci from The French Laundry who was in town visiting. It was really simple, we needed to bond with each other because we all faced very common things, we all needed community. For me it will always be focused on community even if and when we grow into other things because it was so important to my growth as a manager and leader of Per Se. Even though we met infrequently, I knew they were. It was a pretty strong safety net to reach out. I look for the NYCDRC to provide that same feeling of “comfort in numbers” to a much broader base. How that takes shape will be up to the team and the growing community. It was actually when the newest members joined in 2012 and pushed us to take it much further. I am inspired by them every meeting to do more.
Jeff Katz: It has already been a great way to meet people in our field who appreciate what serious service is. I hope it develops into a bigger community of service professionals. I hope it reminds us all that service can save a bad dining experience, that great food in the absence of great service cannot make a great experience. I hope we understand that serious service doesn’t have to be serious at all.
Kirk Kelawae: The New York City Dining Room Collaborative is the most effective means of elevating the craft of service in our city. It is our goal that a career in restaurant service be viewed as the noble profession we know it to be. By bringing together the talented and passionate members of our group to share ideas and experiences, we have to inspire future generations of restaurant service professionals, elevate the quality of service in restaurants across the entire industry, and create a resource for future collaboration throughout the service industry.
Pierre Siue: The NYDRC is about collaboration, support and friendship amongst restaurant industry professionals, particularly those who work in fine dining. We all have different styles and personalities, but we all strive for the same level of excellence in our restaurants. Our mission is to inspire, provide guidance, and share knowledge with the next generation of hospitality professionals.
Graceanne Jordan: NYCDRC is a way for me to stay close to like-minded people and my industry family. With technology advancing daily I hope we can preserve human contact, feed souls and create memories like we were taught.
Will Guidara: The NYCDRC is about building and fostering a community within the dining room. It’s about bringing together the great minds and talents who work in dining rooms across the city and creating a place where the collective knowledge and sharing of information inspires others in our field. Already I’ve learned things I was not otherwise exposed to, been inspired by the stories of my peers, and it’s this knowledge that will help lay the foundation for the future generation of dining room professionals, while promoting constant development and evolution for the current group.

The New York City Dining Room Collaborative brings together great minds and talent in dining and seeks to inspire, mentor, and share knowledge with the next generation of restaurant service professionals.