Ed Tinoco talks to Elite Traveler from Next Restaurant
He began as sous chef for Next in 2016. “Moving [here] was like working at Disneyland,” says the New York native. “You can be risky because it’s such a creative city, even outside of the industry. When it comes to individuality, chefs here lead that.”
There are few restaurants more unique than Next: The restaurant changes its menu every season (each lasting three months) to focus on different cultures’ cuisine, with a culinary theme centered around historic events.
A lentil dish from the Silk and Spice menu
For example, this year’s summer menu is Italia, highlighting Italy’s modern cuisine. To dine at Next, you purchase tickets for a date and time (or season tickets), without knowing any dishes on the menu.
Every experience is built differently from the ones before, from the plates and flatware to the paper the menu is printed on to the way dishes are presented (one dish from spring’s Silk & Spice menu used woven baskets as ‘plates’ to showcase small bowls of lentils garnished with cardamom cream and Indian spices) — even the equipment and purveyors change every few months.
“The biggest challenge is making sure you’re consistent with your work but also pushing the limits,” Tinoco says of being the creative lead as executive chef. “At the end of the day, our goal is to transport you to that theme and that place.”
Tinoco aims to do something completely his own with each seasonal menu. His individuality is inspired by Achatz, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller, who he says constantly reinvented the wheel and proved chefs are artists in their own right.
“Ten years ago, people didn’t see chefs as artists, or even as a real profession,” Tinoco says. “Grant changed this idea and proved that we’re artists in our own way — except our art just lasts about 13 seconds.”
His bite-sized, edible art may not last long, but his creative concepts are sure to endure.