Like many cooks, Dago Cruz found himself without work when dining rooms closed last March and finding work, no matter how far away it was, took its toll once restaurants slowly started to reopen.
“I was without work for three months, then a friend in Long Island called me to work with him, but I was traveling two hours there and two hours back every day, just to find any work I could. I was getting back home in Bushwick, Brooklyn, after 1 a.m. and then leaving at 9 a.m., because there was no work in the city.”
Then, in June, an old connection called him up. It was Ed Szymanski, the former chef of Greenpoint’s Cherry Point restaurant (now permanently closed), who was now working on a new project, Dame, with his partner, Patricia Howard. Cruz first met Szymanski at a Thanksgiving dinner in 2016 at Cherry Point. Years later, they actually worked on the line together at Cherry Point, and now, Szymanski hoped Cruz would join him in opening a pop-up version of his new seafood-focused restaurant in the West Village. Since June, Cruz has been working with Szymanski and Howard at Dame.
If there’s anything he wants to tell diners, it’s that he hopes diners at Dame know how much love goes into the food. His story over the last 12 months follows.