Executive Chef Jaime Young Explains What Sunday in Brooklyn Means to Him
For the longest time, the high-end world of fine dining looked down on good old fashioned comfort foods. But that’s no longer so, thanks to the likes of Jaime Young, executive chef and founding partner at Sunday In Brooklyn, a high end restaurant that makes the most out of cozy homes-style favorites like pancakes and red sauce pasta. To get some insight on how Mr. Young knew he could successfully combine fine dining and the simple pleasures of a home-cooked meal, we paid him a visit at his Williamsburg restaurant to take some pics and ask some questions.
I like how Sunday in Brooklyn takes various global “comfort foods” and elevates them without sacrificing authenticity. How did you land on that concept for the restaurant and its food?
Accessibility is important to us. We want our guests to feel relaxed and at home in our space. We are super conscious about seasonality and quality of ingredients. We like to change our menus often to keep our neighborhood guests excited about what’s new. Keeping this in mind, we try to utilize seasonal ingredients and prepare them in a way that brings a familiar food experience while injecting new techniques and flavor profiles to keep it exciting. Flavor memories and experiences are our way of connecting to our guests.
As a chef, I’m sure you work long days with few breaks. What about that kind of lifestyle appeals to you and how do you find time for yourself even when you’re working almost constantly?
I really fell in love with cooking because of the high energy, focus, creativity, and passion. As I traversed deeper into this industry, I discovered new pieces that I found to be really satisfying. For one, there is an endless stream of knowledge and learning to be done—it never ends. Things are constantly changing as far as styles, techniques, philosophy—having the ability to connect with all types of people from around the world with different backgrounds. I realized that we all share something in common—and that’s food. Teaching is also something that really inspires me. Passing off information and helping others grow is very gratifying. As of recently, although time is always a limited thing in our industry, I have found that making time for my personal life has become more important than ever. We all need balance.
Another thing I like about Sunday in Brooklyn is its “Red Sauce Sunday” tradition. Can you describe that bit please?
I grew up on Long Island. Although we are a Jewish family, my mom probably made Sunday gravy as good—if not better—than any Nonna. This was, to me, a tradition that I really loved and enjoyed as a child. For New Yorkers—or anyone coming to visit or live in New York—the New York Sicilian Italian meal has always been a staple here. We wanted to recreate that familiar family experience for our neighborhood. Our Executive Sous Che, Derek Boccagno, grew up the same way in an Italian family. It was only natural for him to create the menu—which is absolutely fantastic, delicious, and authentic!
Last, I’m sure it’s hard to pick, but do you have a favorite dish at Sunday in Brooklyn?
It’s hard to say which dish is my favorite. I really enjoy cooking with the seasons and I look forward to the changing produce.