When he was in his early teens Eric would take the subway from his Mom’s house in Brooklyn into lower Manhattan to visit his Dad who lived on the western edge of SOHO. He was allowed to go to two places without supervision – his Uncle’s restaurant which was right downstairs or La Gamelle, a nearby French Bistro owned by friends of his Dad. At La Gamelle he would sit at the bar, eating steak frites, drinking pepsi with a splash of red wine and making small talk with the bartenders and regulars at the age of 13. It was on those nights that he realized how much he loved being in restaurants and that it was the restaurant world in which he would make his mark. In 1991 Eric moved to San Francisco, and it was there that he developed his signature, laid back approach to service. Eric became the general manager of Piemonte Ovest at the age of 24, and was given total control to run the restaurant as he saw fit. The result was a wildly succesful restaurant with professional yet approachable service. Looking for another change of pace, Eric hopped in his car and drove cross-country and a week later ended up in the Hamptons. He walked into the newly-opened Dellafimina looking for a waiter position and walked away the new general manager. For the next two years, he ran the front and the back of the house in the hottest restaurant in the Hamptons, becoming friends with weekenders and locals alike. The job he didn’t even want made him the gatekeeper for one of the toughest tables in the Hamptons, and became the stepping stone for his next position as general manager of F.illi Ponte in Tribecca. F.illi Ponte marked Eric’s return to the New York City dining scene, and for two and a half years he developed relationships and friendships with regulars while running one of Manhattan’s top Italian restaurants. Following F.illi Ponte Eric split his time between The Hamptons and Manhattan, opening Pacific East in Amagansett and Chelsea, as well as the original Markt in the Meatpacking District. He opened Lunch on Hudson Street in 2000 and succesfully ran it until selling it in 2001 so he and childhood friend Jason Weiner could open Almond in Bridgehampton NY. With the 2008 opening of Almond in Manhattan, this peripatetic restaurantuer is back on the road, travelling between New York City and Bridgehampton, bringing his “groovy” style of service along with him.
Jason Weiner is the executive chef and proprietor of Almond, an American bistro with locations in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, New York. Weiner serves hearty, seasonal dishes that reflect farm-to-table roots and highlight local ingredients. Weiner’s success as a chef and restaurateur can be largely attributed to his extensive experience at many of the countrys top kitchens. In 1991, Weiner helped open Aqua in San Francisco, working under Chef George Morrone. He was an early witness to locally grown, farm-fresh cooking. As Aquas mission was all things seafood, Weiner learned a good deal about preparing all varieties of fish; but it was the one-on-one interaction with local farmers and foragers that would have the greatest impact on his culinary philosophy and future. Following Aqua, Weiner was chef de cuisine at Michael Minas San Franciscos three-star Charles restaurant for two years. In 2001, Jason reconnected with childhood friend and future business partner Eric Lemonides, and the two looked at an empty restaurant space in Bridgehampton. They barely hesitated in taking over the space, completing a full build-out by the following spring. The success of the restaurant led the team to expand to Manhattan. In October 2008, Jason and Eric opened the Manhattan outpost of Almond to much fanfare. The simplicity of the menu, the ingredients from local farmers, the friendly, laid-back atmosphere and Jasons adherence to the philosophy that the less a chef a does to fresh ingredients the better, made Almond an instant favorite. When Jason isnt working, he can be found at home in East Hampton, NY playing ” I WANT YOUR SOCK!” (long story) with his daughter Rive Tiger Lily or perhaps annoying the hell out of his lovely wife Almond by incessently asking her if she”s seen his wallet(or phone, or keys, or…).
Antonio Rappazzo has worked with some of the keenest restaurant minds in New York City : Tom Valenti, Amanda Freitag, Anne Burrell, Graydon Carter, Sam DeMarco, John DeLucie and Zak Pelaccio, to name a few. From First to ‘Cesca to the Centro Vinoteca to the Waverly Inn, Mr Rappazzo has been helping to establish classic Manhattan dining institutions for the past ten years. In 2008, Antonio was recruited by Jason Weiner and Eric Lemonides to show them how things worked in the big city. He’s since showed them other stuff, too(that we’d prefer not to discuss here). When Antonio isn’t working he’s still working. When he’s really, really not working he can be found juggling his beautiful wife Michaela and his two gorgeous children Leo and Coco– no, I mean really juggling. He happens to also be a circus performer
David Belknap is chef/partner of L&W Oyster Co., Belknap is responsible for developing dishes, managing a fast-paced kitchen and executing the restaurant’s vision of serving artisanal, market-driven dishes that feature modern and classic takes on seafood. Prior to joining the L&W Oyster Co. team in 2012 when the restaurant opened, Belknap spent just shy of two years at the famed Per Se in New York City, honing his skills and refining his technique under some of the country’s best rising chefs. Prior to Per Se, Belknap worked for The Ritz Carlton, heading up kitchens at the world’s best hotel restaurants in Orlando, Denver and Naples. But ultimately, Belknap yearned for the opportunity to work in a kitchen where he could put his own stamp on the menu. At L&W Oyster Co. Belknap is inspired by the abundance of local seafood and the endless possibilities this presents to be creative. He believes in honoring the essence of the ingredients but also presenting them in new ways that surprise and excite the guest. Opened in November 2012, L&W Oyster Co. is an old school/new school oyster bar brought to you by the guys that brought you Almond. The menu is artisanal and market driven featuring some modern and classic takes on raw things, cured things, smoked things, steamed things and fried things.