Chef Wylie Dufresne on His Restaurant, WD – 50

Carbon-copy stations, open sight lines, and a chemical cupboard define this Lower East Side kitchen.

Restaurant: WD – 50
Location: New York

Wylie Dufresne: Our kitchen is extremely functional. At first glance it doesn’t seem that different from a lot of others because it is laid out in the same way as a European-style kitchen: it’s broken down into multiple stations. The hot line is designed so that the four stations are identical in terms of the equipment that stands in front of the cook. Each cook has his or her own flattop, oven door, reach-in refrigerator, three doors of refrigeration, and two bays of countertop refrigeration. The idea is that regardless of the station, the mise en place [ingredient selection] changes but the layout stays the same, so you can move from station to station with a certain familiarity. That’s a very practical way of thinking about it.

But then as you delve a little deeper, we have lots of items that you don’t see in the normal kitchen. We have some equipment that was unusual when we first opened but has become more commonplace, like the dehydrators and the immersion cir­culator. From there it goes on to a liquid-nitrogen tank—we certainly weren’t the first to bring that to the table, but you don’t see a tank of liquid nitrogen sitting in the corner in a lot of kitchens!

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This was a bodega when we moved in. I wanted space, countertops—I just wanted room for people to work. I wanted a place we could grow into. It’s a freestanding building, so we decided to put a skylight in the kitchen and bring some light into the room for the guys. On a busy Saturday night, there are eight of us on the line, including pastry, and it’s easy to move around. There’s a very clear line of sight, so I can tell what everyone else is doing from where I’m standing.

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Grant Achatz

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Wylie Dufresne

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