CURATES AN IMMERSIVE INSIDERS FOOD EXPERIENCE
Talented young tastemaker Yonatan Chaitchik—of SAGA NYC, a fine dining restaurant in New York’s Financial District—has embarked on a new culinary model in the foodie mecca that is NYC.
His new pop-up effort is called Monday NYC (Mondays is when most high-end dining destinations are closed). Chaitchik selects groups of chefs, sommeliers, and hospitality professionals, hosting delicious food opportunities with a different mindset and style.
“We serve on our days off what we would like to eat and drink in a more casual setting, but simplicity is the key,” Chaitchik explains. “A great simple dish with the best ingredients, paired with an excellent glass of wine, it’s very relaxing for these industry professionals to kick back and enjoy.”
The mantra here is friends serving friends on our day off.
Monday NYC’s menu is inspired by both techniques of the masters, and Mediterranean based cuisine. The food options change often, based on the resident chef’s vision and the season. The style of food is really dynamic. Chaitchik also brings in a new sommelier and/or mixologist each time, giving them the artistic freedom to stage and execute their personal ideas.
With so many new unique epicurean ideas, innovator Yonatan Chaitchik (follow on Instagram @yonatanchaitchik) promises to be among the hot new wave in gastronomic culture. Only 26 years young, he is inspired to look for original ways to present fun cuisine.
For Monday NYC info or to make a reservation, follow on Instagram @mondaynyc.
What follows below is a Q&A with Yonatan Chaitchik.
What were your earliest childhood memories regarding food?
YC: Running into my great-grandmother's house and looking for white chocolate in the kitchen. She was a brilliant cook, and so is my grandmother who I learnt everything from her.
What did your family cook?
My father is a very talented cook. He makes a lot of Italian food and Jewish food. My mom is obsessed with nutrition and health, so we always had amazing organic produce in the house.
Was there a memorable dish that your mother made?
My mother makes a whole wheat cake with apples and nuts, healthy and delicious.
What are your favorite food smells?
I'm absolutely in love with the smell of fresh bread out of the oven. I grew up next to a bakery, and this smell is everything to me.
What does Monday NYC mean to you personally?
Monday NYC for me is an outlet for young restaurant professionals to express their creativity and share it. Usually it takes years of work until you get that chance in a restaurant. Here, we all get to do it on our own terms.
Do your friends and colleagues enjoy Monday NYC?
Luckily my friends are huge supporters and come often to eat with us.
How do you find your chefs for Monday NYC?
It has been always friends of mine from the industry. I've been fortunate to work around amazing young chefs.
How do you find your sommeliers and mixologist for Monday NYC?
When I go eat and drink at restaurants, I hunt for people who interest me and connect with them. First, we become friends, then we can work together.
How did you start getting into event planning?
Somehow at every restaurant I worked in I found myself most attracted to the events. The spirit of this one-time project made it exciting for me. When the pandemic closed the world, I was lucky enough to go back to Israel and hone my event skills with the famous Israeli event planner Dzima. He taught me so much and I’m forever grateful.
Did your family do family dinners?
Every Friday my father used to cook, and I would watch him. He's a doctor and when I was a kid, this was my only chance to spend time with him.
Did your parents influence your culinary dreams?
My parents supported me endlessly through my journey. We all love food, so they were always behind me in all my culinary aspirations.
What kind of ingredients did your family use for your meals?
Olive oil, tomatoes, amazing bread, and tahini.
How was food sourced?
My mother would spend a lot of time finding organic produce she liked, and my father would go to the market in Tel Aviv twice a week to buy meat and other stuff.
Where do you shop for groceries in New York?
I do almost all of my shopping in Essex market. I live nearby, and I have great relationships with many vendors there.
What do you see as the new trend in food?
People are steering away from international luxury towards local and fresh.
What is your favorite food?
I love pasta in any shape or form, also tomatoes and any fruit.
What is favorite region for cooking?
Italian cuisine really is a big part of who I am.
What is your favorite region for food?
Right now, I'm most fascinated with Turkey. I went to Istanbul before the pandemic and my mind was blown away.
What would you say is your cooking style?
Super simple, I use very few components, trying to highlight their beauty.
How do you see your career changing in the next five years?
I hope to open my own restaurant and event space in the next five years. Until then, I want to keep working with as many people as I can at SAGA, and Monday NYC.
What advice can you give a new chef starting out?
Hard work is the only way to get started. The more you give at work, the more you will get back in life-long lessons.
Story By: Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy Of: Instagram @yonatanchaitchik