Expert Studies 01: Alissa Wagner of Dimes NYC
Describe what you do. Give us a snapshot of your daily routine.
I am co-owner and chef of Dimes and Dimes Deli + Market in New York. I design and develop the menu for both locations and also run our catering program. Most days start early. I’ll check in with both restaurants in the morning to see what’s going on and what, if any fires need putting out. The rest of my day is dictated by what’s happening that particular week – if we are booked for a lot of catering jobs my focus will be coordinating with clients and handling event production. If we are changing the menu at Dimes, I’ll be in the kitchen writing and testing recipes and teaching my cooks how to create the new dishes.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The relationship between art, fashion, and food is tantamount when it comes to Dimes aesthetic - how do you view the relationship of these three things?
Art, fashion and food are all visual languages. It’s said that you eat with your eyes first and I really believe this to be true. Art needs to resonate, clothes need to fit well, and food needs to be delicious, but the introductory sense to all three is sight.
We have a focus on “Foundational Luxury” what is foundational in your line of work?
The foundations of a good meal come from sourcing great ingredients that act as building blocks for the dining experience.
You’re an amazing chef. What foundational ingredients might we always find in your pantry? Or what are your favorite foundation items to start a dish with?
Thank you J Harissa, chickpeas, hearty greens, yogurt.
What is your concept/personal definition of the word ‘luxury’, how do you partake in it?
Luxury is anything that elevates an experience from the mundane into something heavenly. Working in restaurants there’s not a lot of time nor place for luxury so its extra special when I get to indulge. I try to integrate luxury in treating myself to a great massage, or a fancy pair of pajamas. A fantastic vacation is the ultimate when time allows.
What is your ‘golden rule’?
Do unto others……
If you could choose to go back in time and chat with your younger self what advice would you give?
Don’t get caught up in what other people do or think. Stay focused and believe in yourself.
Has being a new mom made you think differently with respect to business?
I’m not quite a new mom yet! As I write this, I’m 9 days from my due date. I’ll leave this one as a TBD. I’m very excited for the future with my baby boy and seeing how the balance between work and life will play out.
Can you tell us three things we should all have in our pantry that we can find at Dimes Deli?
Dimes house made hot sauce, Mu Mu Muesli, Mama-O’s Kimchi
How does someone become and ‘expert’?
Listen, learn, and try, try again.
What makes the perfect white tee (an essential to your personal style)?
How it makes you feel! Also it should fit perfectly and stand the test of time.
Photography by John Waterman Law