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Tastemakers: Brooklyn Booster - Zak Pelaccio

When chefs talk about sustainability they usually mean protecting an organic farm or an endangered fish—not a kielbasa factory. But 29-year-old chef Zak Pelaccio has his own ideas about the dictum "Think global, act local." At his new Chickenbone Café, in a still gritty section of Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, he is fanatical about buying from small local businesses. His twin goals are to defend these artisans against the forces of mass production and, more selfishly, to get amazing ingredients with real character: smoked fish from Weinberger Appetizers, fresh mozzarella from Tedone. Pelaccio has worked in some of America's best restaurants (French Laundry in Napa, Daniel and Union Pacific in Manhattan) and in humbler places around the world (including six months in Kuala Lumpur), and now he's applying everything he's learned to what he calls "Brooklyn global cuisine." Working in a minuscule kitchen with little more than two toaster ovens and a few burners, Pelaccio sends an astonishing assortment of dishes into the cedar-lined dining room, from luscious pork confit sandwiches and kielbasa bruschetta to his Bone Stew with chicken in a spicy coconut broth. Equally astonishing, everything's priced for Williamsburg's struggling artists and Brooklyn Brewery workers: Main courses start at $8 (177 S. 4th St.; 718-302-2663).

Published September 2003
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