New York

Q & A with Chrissa Yee of Craft and Toklas Society


NAME: Chrissa Yee OCCUPATION: Front of House (FOH) Manager at Craft & Director of Events at the Toklas Society HOMETOWN: Renton, WA, about 30 mins south of Seattle CURRENT RESIDENCE: Williamsburg, Brooklyn BIO: Ballerina goals brought Chrissa to the city, but her obsession for cookbooks opened the door to the restaurant scene. While working at Artisan Books, Sisha Ortuzar of Riverpark called for an assistant to help with its operations, marketing and to grow their urban farm. To further develop her hospitality arsenal, Chrissa jumped at the opportunity to step onto the floor as maitre’d at Craft. In less than one year she was promoted to manager. So where does the Toklas Society weave into her story? Chrissa has taken her restaurant know-how and helped the non-profit develop into a network for empowerment, development and professional growth for women in the food and hospitality industry.


WHY DO YOU LIVE IN NYC AND COULD YOU LIVE ANYWHERE ELSE? I wanted to dance, that’s how I got here. Then there were the restaurants, shows and nightlife to keep me here. Could I live anywhere else? Definitely. But, I’ll probably come back. WHAT IS IT ABOUT KALE THAT GETS PEOPLE SO WORKED UP? Kale? It’s good for you, sturdy in terms of a salad green, and everywhere. That’s that. WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST RESTAURANT/FOOD MEMORY? Sitting in a Chinese restaurant with my family and a big Lazy Susan in the middle. My grandmother would peel Dungeness crab for me and my brother so we could bypass the struggle and learn to love it. WHAT/WHO INSPIRES YOU? My brother, Corey, who is also in the restaurant industry. I’m the little sister, so monkey see, monkey do. Our father owned a little restaurant in Chinatown, and his dad opened the old Hong Kong restaurant in Seattle. So, I don’t think either of us meant to end up here. But I like the pace, we love the passion of the people in this industry and taking care of people. He made following this path a lot easier because he already did. He challenges me to have confidence in my abilities and question every little thing to see if it can be done better.
Now, what you’ve been waiting for... CURRENT RESTAURANT CRUSH? I’ve had more daytime hours to eat out lately and love Dizengoff and El Rey for breakfast/lunch. And, I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee. My current crush is Mixtape. They’re killing it window-side and serving some food now. My latest restaurant crush is Via Carota. And it’s a steady favorite of mine for almost a year. The whole menu is solid, and the pastas are a real treat. It’s always on the top of my list. BEST ICE CREAM IN NYC? I’m partial to Chef Abby Swain’s here at Craft, but always drop in at Morgenstern’s when I’m anywhere nearby. But honestly, Chef Abby’s strawberry ice cream is the stuff of my day dreams. ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST, YAY OR NAY? Totally. LATE NIGHT FOOD FIRST INSTINCT Mmmmm, spaghetti. And meatballs, I can’t help it., it’s really my first instinct. I tried to change it but that’s what I want late night. I haven’t found a spot to cater to this late night craving yet, so that’s good for my figure. SECRET GUILTY PLEASURES (other than spaghetti and meatballs) Definitely dance parties and karaoke. WHAT’S YOUR FAV TRAVEL DESTINATION? WHERE DO YOU EAT THERE? Paris and croissants. WHAT’S YOUR FAV DINING NEIGHBORHOOD IN YOUR CITY? The Grand/Graham/Lorimer area off the L train. And the East Village! TIPPING, YEA OR NAY? Am I pro hospitality included? Yes. WHAT ARE YOU EATING ON A TYPICAL SUNDAY? Whether I’m home or not, my husband Sam orders Best Pizza on Sundays. Because it’s the best and Frank Pinello is the best. His new show is fun, too! TOP FIVE FAVORITE RESTAURANTS IN NYC RIGHT NOW. GO. Via Carota, Mission Chinese, Huertas, Mr. Donahue’s, Lilia TOP FIVE FAVORITE DRINKS SPOTS IN NYC RIGHT NOW. GO. Mayahuel, Four Horsemen, Llama Inn, Bar Goto and Mona’s (always) TOP FIVE NYC BURGERS. GO. Emmy Squared, Allswell (for the chicken sandwich, it’s allowed), The Commodore, Superiority Burger, The Breslin  TOP FIVE NYC DESSERTS. GO. Oh my. I always save room for good dessert. Craft, of course and especially Abby’s panna cotta. The blueberry cobbler at Walter Foods. Geoff Koo’s pies at Riverpark. Ovenly’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake. Cosme.

Chrissa Yee

And there you have it. A front row seat in the life of a restaurant industry-buff. The best tables, the best times, the best restaurants. Grab a seat. More to come.