For years, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare dominated the New York City fine-dining scene. Opened in 2009 in Brooklyn, it was hailed as unique and modern, earning three Michelin stars and glowing critical reviews. In 2016, the restaurant relocated to Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, in the back of a supermarket. And more recently, the restaurant made headlines related to a relatively public dispute between former head chef, César Ramirez, and the restaurant’s owner, Moneer “Moe” Issa.
Following a brief closure last summer, the storied restaurant reopened in October 2023, with two new head chefs and the same exacting commitment to quality. You’ll find chefs Max Natmessnig and Marco Prins in the kitchen every night, serving dishes, interacting with guests, and meticulously crafting the highly seasonal tasting menu.
In this edition of the Resy Rundown, we sat down with the two co-head chefs to chat about all things legacy, ingredients, and working as a team.
1. Both chefs’ résumés are equally impressive, and they’re both equally as involved in every aspect of the restaurant.
Max Natmessnig and Marco Prins are no strangers to impressive, critically accliamed kitchens. Their respective careers span multiple countries, in kitchens that include Munich’s historic Alois (Natmessnig), Vienna’s Steirereck (Natmessnig), New York’s Michelin-starred Ukiyo (Prins), and together at Oud Sluis in 2007 in the Netherlands.
Austrian-raised Natmessnig and Holland-born Prins also worked together previously at the original location of Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in Brooklyn in 2009. And they’re applying all of what they’ve learned over the years into the new Chef’s Table.
“In every restaurant that we work in we always learn something, obviously. We try to make our own ideas from what we learned for all those years. You create your own identity by working for other kitchen chefs, and you keep those ideas to yourself, but now it’s our time to put what we’ve learned on the plate,” Natmessnig says.
The pair says that they are both equally involved in the creation and execution of the dishes on the menu.
“It’s very cohesive. We come to work, we make our daily mise en place, and while we do that we always chat with the team, which is very important. It’s a team effort. It cannot be a one-man show,” Natmessnig notes. “We have an open conversation with the team about things we want to change, dishes we want to change, ingredients we want to change, all of which goes hand in hand with the season. Based on that, everybody chips in an idea, and then it crystallizes out as one final dish.”
They’re both in the kitchen every night of service, too. “Guests expect that. It’s super nice when they see the chef,” Prin says. “We have a little chat and explain some of the dishes. That’s really, super important.”
Most importantly, though?
“There are no egos. All the egos are left outside,” Natmessnig adds.
2. The heart of the restaurant remains the same.
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare is still hyper-focused on quality food, quality wine, and quality service, the two chefs say.
“[The sommelier, Peter Joung] has a sixth sense about matching the food with the perfect wine,” adds Natmessnig.
As before, there are 20 counter seats and between 20 and 25 table seats, but now the tasting menu is 14 courses, including dessert, instead of 12. There is still an open kitchen, but the space is a bit warmer than it once was, with a warm glow and less of an industrial feel. You can still expect to talk to the chefs about the dishes over the open kitchen. And some of the faces may even be familiar.
“The front-of-house team and the back-of-house team stayed on after the chef left. That’s a huge, huge shout out to them because they know the system, they know the rules,” says Natmessnig. “They know the high standards since they used to work here before, and they know the returning customers. This really, really helps us in a lot of ways to go above and beyond to reach new standards.”
3. Ingredients are big here. No, bigger.
“You cannot really mess with the spirit and identity of the restaurant, and the success of always using the best ingredients, but we definitely wanted to notch it up,” Natmessnig says.
The team is sourcing ingredients from far-away places like Japan and the Netherlands, and from closer to home, like Maine and Alaska. And every dish on the menu is a new collaboration from both chefs.
“It’s the identity of the restaurant. People are expecting to eat very high-quality, luxurious products,” Prins says.
Take, for example, the wild-caught turbot. While most restaurants in the city only serve a farm-raised version, due to the high price of the alternative, they only serve the wild variety here.
“You cannot compare it with the farmed,” says Prins. “It’s such a different flavor. It’s like when you go to a good coffee shop and order a latte versus when you get one at Starbucks. It’s a day and night difference. If for some reason we cannot get the wild-caught turbot, then we don’t serve it. There are no exceptions; we will make something else.”
While it’s an ever changing, hyper-seasonal menu, some previous dishes have included scallop with vin jaune sauce, caviar, crispy potato, and fig leaf oil; and the wild-caught turbot, which is grilled, baked in the oven, and then served with razor clams and a sauce made from the fish bones and caviar. Many of the dishes are seafood-forward, designed to highlight the quality of those luxurious ingredients.
4. They aren’t feeling the pressure — only the excitement.
Despite the restaurant’s long and impressive legacy, the pair says that all they feel is excitement about the future.
“We don’t put pressure on ourselves,” Natmessnig says. “It’s more a privilege and a dream come true to work at such an amazing place. Marco and I were at so many of the best restaurants in the world for so many years, so we know what the standard is. But, if you approach it with any sort of pressure or anxiety, you will taste it in the food.”
The fact that they worked at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare before, if anything, has only added to their reverence for the place.
“We’re really in love with this restaurant — it feels like butterflies. The excitement that we have to do this amazing job … it’s like a dream. It doesn’t really feel like a job because we’re so passionate about it,” Prins says.
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare is open Tuesday through Saturday, with seatings at 5 p.m, 5:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. The tasting menu is priced at $430 per person.
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