CHEF VICTORIA BLAMEY
AN AMERICAN RESTAURANT
Victoria Blamey is our first new Executive Chef in 34 years, and we are thrilled to welcome her into the Gotham kitchen. In anticipation of her new menu, everyone here at the restaurant has been contemplating exactly what it means to be an American restaurant.
When asked the question, “What kind of cuisine do you serve?” the response “American” rings oddly vague. It doesn’t begin to tell the complex story of all the influences that converge to form something unique and distinct. Which is perhaps true of all cuisines.
After all, “Italian cooking” isn’t really Italian at all, but rather a bold mix of cultures and flavors that stretches back thousands of years. The Roman Empire influenced Italian cuisine, but so did the ancient Greeks. Many of the flavors that have become synonymous with Italian cooking, in fact, came from distant lands. Durum wheat from the Middle East eventually led to the development of semolina pasta. The tomato hails from South America, and polenta would not have been possible without Mexico’s influence. Even the “Italian” herb we call Basil is not indigenous to Italy; rather, it found its way from China and India via trade routes many centuries ago.
A SMALLER WORLD
Similarly, American cuisine is hardly definable. Over the past fifty years air travel has brought cultures closer, making it easier than ever to incorporate influences and flavors from faraway places. "Culture," a word meant to describe a particular place and its people, is derived from the word cultivate, as in "to farm." Culture, quite literally, means: what we farm, what we eat, how we dine.
Is it any surprise that food culture in America has exploded these past few decades?
To be American is to search for something new and true, something we can adopt as our own. It is about creativity, curiosity, and diversity — pillars that Gotham has upheld since its inception in 1984. As the restaurant steps into its next chapter we seek to build on two defining aspects of our heritage: impeccable ingredients and the borderless creativity with which we use them.
CHEF BLAMEY’S WINDING PATH
Chef Victoria Blamey is an inspiring talent who brings to Gotham more than a decade’s worth of experience cooking in highly-regarded kitchens across multiple continents. A native of Chile, Blamey was a student of history until she transferred to the International School of Culinary Studies in Santiago, a move that allowed her to apply that love of history in new ways. Blamey immediately set her sights on the world of fine dining. Drawn to the Michelin-lauded restaurants and their multi-course experiences, she began a decade-long journey around the world, seeking out great chefs from whom she could learn. In 2004 she took a position at The Vineyard at Stockcross in the UK, under Chef John Campbell, before moving to Melbourne, Australia to work at Interlude. Following that she staged in San Sebastian, Spain, with Chef Andoni Luis Adruiz at Mugaritz, and then spent time at ABaC in Barcelona.
NEW YORK GETS HER
In 2010, Victoria set her roots down in New York City. She joined Paul Liebrandt’s brigade at Corton, then moved to Atera as a Chef de Cuisine for Chef Matt Lightner, before returning to Corton in 2013 as Chef de Cuisine. In 2014 she shifted gears to work with Chef Justin Smillie at Il Buco Alimentari e Vinieri and Upland.
She would remain there until 2016 when she accepted her first Executive position at the storied speakeasy, Chumley’s. There, her reinvention of American classics drew attention from the industry at large, including New York Times’ Restaurant Critic, Pete Wells, who wrote this: “Ms. Blamey loads her dishes with more excitement than you will find in other new restaurants that are getting far more attention.”
In a recent interview Chef Blamey described the new Gotham menu with characteristic directness, “This is a multicultural city, so the menu will be a melting pot.”
What could be more American than that?
The menu she’s developing will be a reflection of her personality and passion, as well as the years she’s spent traveling the world.
The truth is America is an amalgam of cultures, personalities, and flavors. Our tastes evolve from generation to generation as we’re introduced to new ingredients and cuisines from around the world. By extension, an American restaurant is an amalgamation. Not a fixed-mark, but rather an ever-evolving creative exploration of our culture and our world.
We couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the diversity New York stands for with a new menu that debuts tonight. The reservation book is open, and we invite you to be among the first to experience the next chapter of the Gotham story.
Photography by Evan Sung