elise kornack

In the two years since Take Root opened, Elise Kornack and her wife Anna Hieronimus have quietly been at work redefining what a successful restaurant looks like. The dining room of Take Root, tucked away on a leafy street in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, has just 12 seats (four of them at the bar) serves dinner three nights a week, and has a 10-dish set menu, served just once an evening at 8PM. The venture began as a supperclub in the couple’s apartment and materialised as a formal restaurant in January 2013.

Anna runs the front of house, while Take Root’s menu is crafted and cooked by Elise, who honours the seasons as they pass over each other (spring to summer, summer to autumn). Her food is flavourful, experimental and visually, nothing short of a dream.

Elise, who originally studied art, previously worked as the sous chef at Aquavit, which currently has two Michelin stars. There, she worked with a staff of 27, something she quickly tired of: “I wanted to be able to execute a vision by myself. I work alone in the kitchen now, and I like it that way. It’s like being an artist; I’m in my studio doing my own stuff then when people come to eat here it’s like an exhibition.”

Since opening, Take Root has received praise, not only for its food, but for the diner experience. The restaurant has an air of the theatrical about it, each visitor sharing the same experience in a tiny room, making the atmosphere delicate and easy to shift. The two work without any additional help and are well aware of the unique structure of their restaurant: “Some people have preconceived notions of what a successful chef and restaurant should look like. We don’t fit into those categories. We’re young, we’re gay and we’re married, so some costumers, albeit very few, question us.”

After receiving a Michelin Star this year and with bookings being made months in advance, Elise and Anna have shown that there is no time like the present to shake the foundations of New York’s restaurant structure.

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