Photos by Evan Sung, courtesy of Libertine

Resy QuestionnaireNew York

20 Questions with Libertine’s Max Mackinnon

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In the Resy Questionnaire, we play a game of 20 questions with the industry folks behind some of our favorite restaurants. What’s your most memorable restaurant experience? Your favorite food movie? What restaurant would you want to time-travel for?

In this edition, we spoke to Max Mackinnon, the chef and co-owner of New York’s Libertine in the West Village, and the soon-to-open wine bar Plus de Vin in Williamsburg.

The Resy Questionnaire

1. Favorite thing you’ve ever cooked?

Roasting a chicken has always been something that has made me happy cooking for friends and family. It’s a simple thing, but when it’s done right, it’s such a satisfying thing to share.

Barbuto's roast chicken.
Barbuto’s famous roast JW chicken. Photo by Jen Davidson, courtesy of Barbuto
Barbuto's roast chicken.
Barbuto’s famous roast JW chicken. Photo by Jen Davidson, courtesy of Barbuto

2. Kitchen tool or equipment you couldn’t live without?

There are many pieces of equipment that help in different ways working in a kitchen. The tool I have become the most attached to is a good spoon. It’s something I always try to keep within reach.

3. What five culinary items would you bring on a desert island?

Dijon mustard, olive oil, high-quality vinegar, sea salt, and chile crisp.

4. What’s your favorite place to get a slice in New York?

Ops was the first meal that my wife and I had when we moved into our neighborhood, and it is a consistent favorite.

Photo courtesy of Ops
Photo courtesy of Ops

5. Favorite cookbook?

Joe Beef [The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts]. It was one of the first cookbooks I read cover to cover.

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Joe Beef
Photo courtesy of Restaurant Joe Beef

6. Your drink of choice?

I drink a lot of sparkling water.

7. Favorite food movie?

“Big Night.”

8. Which industry people, living or dead, would you love to cook for or have over for a dinner party? 

Hosting is one of my favorite things. Having my closest industry friends over is something I will always prioritize and love to do.

9. What restaurant industry person do you admire the most and why?

There are so many, but Vanya Filipovic is someone whose energy and professionalism I truly admire. She has an incredible work ethic, can do so many things, and also opened one of my very favorite restaurants, Mon Lapin in Montreal.

Photo courtesy of Mon Lapin
Photo courtesy of Mon Lapin

10. The greatest restaurant experience of your life so far?

Blue Hill at Stone Barns for my wife’s birthday in 2017.



11. Your greatest professional achievement?

Opening a busy restaurant in New York City has to top the list at this point. It’s not something I ever imagined myself doing, and it’s been a wild ride so far.

12. What single dish best describes your personality?

Coq au vin. It’s such a simple dish in presentation, but there is a lot of work that goes into it when done right. It is such a satisfying dish to cook and eat.

13. If you could go back in time, which restaurant would you dine at?

La Pyramide when Fernand Point was in his prime. [Editor’s note: Fernand Point’s wife, Marie Louise “Madame Mado” Point, inspired the name for newly opened Cafe Mado in Crown Heights.]

The dining room at Libertine.
The dining room at Libertine makes you feel like you’re in a bistro in Paris. Photo courtesy of Libertine
The dining room at Libertine.
The dining room at Libertine makes you feel like you’re in a bistro in Paris. Photo courtesy of Libertine

14. Your favorite meal from childhood?

Roast chicken.

15. What is your wish for the restaurant industry?

I would love to see more restaurants opening that have a clear point of view when it comes to things outside of food and beverage. I think it is important to have people in this industry who are being innovative with our service models, who do a good job setting guest’s expectations, and who prioritize the well-being of the staff in the restaurant.

16. What do you wish you did better? What do you do well?

I wish I did a better job managing anxiety, particularly when it comes to speaking in public and being more outgoing. I hope to always be honest and generous in work and in life.

17. If you could eat through a city for a day, where would you go?

If I had one day, Montreal. I would do my best to make it to see all of my friends who own and operate restaurants.



18. The one thing you can’t resist splurging on when you go out?

Wine. When a restaurant has a well curated and thoughtful list, I have a hard time holding back.

Braised lamb à la moutarde pairs perfectly with a glass of red wine. Photo by Evan Sung, courtesy of Libertine
Braised lamb à la moutarde pairs perfectly with a glass of red wine. Photo by Evan Sung, courtesy of Libertine

19. What do you value most in restaurants?

A staff that is happy and fulfilled in the work they do.

20. It’s your last meal on earth, what are you eating?

A seafood tower, roast chicken with bread and vegetables, and a plate of Comté.

 

Libertine is open daily for dinner starting at 5 p.m. and for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


Follow Max Mackinnon on Instagram.


Deanna Ting is Resy’s New York & Philadelphia Editor. Follow her on Instagram and X. Follow Resy, too.