Gabrielle Hamilton: ‘Sometimes This Industry Fails Me’, And The Worst Part Of Her East Village Location

WNYC host Leonard Lopate invited Gabrielle Hamilton, Marcus Samuelsson, and Andrew Carmellini onto his “Food Fridays” radio broadcast to speak about opening successful restaurants in New York City, and Gab-Ham followed through with a characteristically scathing, honest, but hopeful word on the hipster restaurant scene.

On her memoir’s subtitle, “The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef”:

“The reason I’m reluctant is that sometimes this industry kind of fails me in a way. I sometimes wonder what the purpose and meaning is in cooking food repeatedly. But when I opened the restaurant, that sense of purposelessness disappeared, because it started to be about community and interpersonal human interaction, and food is just kind of the context.”

Of course, now that Prune is a wildly successful madhouse that requires a three-hour wait for a quickly flipped brunch table, she wholeheartedly acknowledges that she “ruined the East Village.” Said Hamilton:

“You know, I went to Roberta’s deep in Bushwick, and had some — what is that? — ten years, eleven years later, the exact equivalent experience of what it must have felt like to come to Prune in ’99. You’re sort of in the middle of nowhere, it feels very abandoned, derelict, covered in graffiti, shady characters on the sidewalk, and then you walk, you push back the door, and there you are, in a place that actually had some serious food going on. So I think people were willing to suffer the vagaries and dangers of the East Village in ’99. And now it’s filled with money and under-dressed women puking between cars.”

We desperately feel like we should brave the crowds at Prune just to pay her the respect she’s owed, but are simultaneously terrified that she’ll catch us yaking post-mimosa binge between cars in a seasonally optimistic sundress on a too-chilly day…

You can listen to the radio show in its entirety below.

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