The iconic retro Empire Diner in Chelsea has a brand new interior and a delicious new menu thanks to chef John DeLucie. The chef has partnered with the team behind Cafeteria on this new all-day dining concept. We chatted with DeLucie to learn more about the project, his daily routine and get his favorite brunch recipes from his menu.
My lunch routine consists of:
I rarely eat lunch but if I do, it would be pasta and a salad or maybe an omelette.
Favorite staff meal:
Tacos, my guys in the kitchen make the best tacos around.
The best part of what I do is:
The immediate gratification I get when someone has a lovely experience at the restaurant.
Where do you seek inspiration for the restaurant?
Galleries, museums, live music shows, other restaurants and all of my travels. I also read a lot of books and magazines.
Who is someone that inspires you in the restaurant world?
I’ve been inspired by so many people in the last 25 years. But right now, my partner at Empire Diner Stacy Pisone inspires me. She has owned Cafeteria for almost 20 years and has an undying enthusiasm for the restaurant and the business of restaurants in general. She’s tough, smart, and always fair.
The best thing I’ve ever eaten:
I can’t even answer the question…
I like simple Italian foods foods that I grew up on, the foods that my mother still makes like spiedini, spaghetti aglio e olio, rigatoni with eggplant, simply grilled fish or meat with olive oil and fresh lemon.
I like flavors that are bitter: dark chocolate, espresso and parmesan cheese.
I’m 10 times more productive when…
I get up really early in the morning to get my day started.
Soft Scrambled Eggs Cacio E Pepe
- 4 Organic eggs
- 1 tbsp. Sweet butter
- 3 tbsp. Finely-grated pecorino romano
- 1 tsp. Black pepper, toasted and coarsely cracked
- 1 tsp. Diced speck
- As needed, sliced speck for garnish
- Salt, to taste
- 2 slices Filone (a classic crusty Italian yeast bread)
- As needed, EVOO
- In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs till smooth.
- Over medium heat in a non stick pan, add butter and melt over medium heat.
- Once butter is melted add eggs, black pepper and speck.
- With a rubber spatula stir continuously until the eggs get viscose.
- Add pecorino romano and season with salt.
- Stir rapidly until it has the consistency of thick yogurt.
- Plate in a bowl and top with parmesan and sliced speck.
- Toast filone and add to the plate
- Blueberry compote
- Mixed berries
- 1 cup All purpose flour
- ½ cup Rye flour
- 1 tbsp. Baking powder
- 1 tbsp. Sugar
- 1 Egg
- ⅔ cup Milk
- ½ c. Clarified butter
- 2 tbsp. Blueberry compote
- In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients, and add milk and mix until smooth.
- On a griddle over medium heat, coat with clarified butter then add three, 3 ounce ladles of batter to the griddle.
- Once puffed and bubbles form, flip and cook on the other side until cooked through.
- In a mixing bowl, add blueberry compote and berries, mix until berries are coated. Top pancakes and serve with maple syrup.