How does Frank Bonanno come up with his menus?
I usually sit in our library with a sketchbook from 11 p.m. to about 3:30 a.m. and just write down ideas. Then we’ll go into one of the restaurants — whichever one I’m making the menu for — and toy around with the ideas. We’ll make one of the dishes and give it to one of the chefs to taste and get their feedback. Quite honestly, my ideas are just rough and raw ideas, then the chef at the restaurant whose menu I’m working on will refine them and put a little twist on them. That’s one way.
The chefs that work with me for all 10 restaurants have creativity. We really try to encourage the chefs and cooks at the restaurants to be creative and be a part of the menu and come up with their own dishes. At Mizuna and Luca [D’Italia], we do nine-course tasting menus and each cook comes up with their own course. That’s how a lot of dishes evolve — through the tasting menus.