Cédric Vongerichten, Chef and Restaurant Owner

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A Year in the Life

Cédric Vongerichten, Chef and Restaurant Owner

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Like many of us, chef Cédric Vongerichten found himself balancing the pressures of work life and family life during the past year.

He is the chef and owner of Wayan, an Indonesian restaurant in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood and his first solo venture, which he opened in February 2019. Vongerichten is also an executive chef and partner in three other restaurants with his father, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (New York City’s Perry Street and Jakarta’s Le Burger and Vong Kitchen). He’s also a dad.

“I am sure no one was expecting to live through a pandemic,” Vongerichten says. “We did not know what to expect; there were some very difficult moments, many lives passed away, a lot of fear, and businesses losses.  As a family, we stuck together, and it was important to make it through while keeping a sane and positive state of mind.”

His story of the past 12 months follows. 

March 2020: When it all began ... announcing the Wayan & Perry St closures. We had no idea of what was going on ... are we closing for only a few weeks? It just felt unreal. —C.V.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

April 2020: Here with the family. Trying to manage home schooling, how to keep our restaurant from closing for good, our new isolated daily routine, and not freaking out in front of the kids.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

May 2020: Empty NYC streets. At this point, it was feeling kind of like the movie, “I Am Legend." We are trying to hold on, but it is getting very scary. I got mugged a few days after I took this photo.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

June 2020: We decided to move upstate for a month, for fresh air and to allow the kids to run around. I spent the days cooking every day with amazing local products, and working on new recipes for the restaurants.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

July 2020: We came back to NYC. And the energy was starting to change. The weather was nice, people were going out, and now we were allowed to serve food at our restaurants outside. This is our first outdoor dining setup with new furniture from Re-Ply.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

August 2020: With a few projects happening in other states, we decided to travel, but with high precautions. It was weird; all the airports and planes were empty. Is this the new normal?

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

September 2020: Spending some time in Montauk, and decided to learn new skills, like surfing.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

October 2020: The cold was coming, so we needed to start getting ready for winter and set up heaters and tents. This meant more expenses for the restaurants. We were still hoping for the best.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

November 2020: During these difficult times, we had to constantly think outside the box, and stay creative. This is Wayan's Indo-Chalet launch, a pre-fixe outdoor service with tabletop grilling, kind of like a French raclette.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

December 2020: Outdoor dining is paused, so we focused on deliveries and ready-to-eat meals at home. In this picture, we are storing boxes for our holiday delivery and takeout meals.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

January 2021: We had a lot of snow this year. Indoor restaurants are closed, COVID-19 cases are increasing. We are spending some time with our kids, and distracting them from any conversation about COVID, or the news.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

February 2021: Cuomo announces indoor dining's return; impeccable timing, as always. With vaccinations starting, we can start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm looking forward to brighter days, as COVID-19 numbers are dropping and people are getting vaccinated. Our lives will come back to some sense of normalcy, even if we have to get used to some new safety routines. I am personally looking forward to traveling again, and to appreciate even more cultures and cuisines of other countries.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

March 2021: R&D (research and development) for our new project opening this summer, I hope.

Photo Courtesy Cédric Vongerichten

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