When Contra opened in 2013 on an unassuming block in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske succeeded in bringing refined, thoughtful tasting menus to a demographic the culinary tradition had previously excluded. To pair with their whimsical fare? A beverage program rooted in natural, organic, and biodynamic bottles overseen by natural wine savant Jorge Riera. That beverage philosophy carried over to their second joint venture: the à la carte tavern concept two doors down called Wildair, where they’re serving up everything from quince toast with lardo to air-light fried squid with lemon and spring onions alongside juicy Chenin Blancs from Agnès et René Mosse and “Vin Anticonformiste” from Eric Pfifferling and Jean-François Nicq.
This week, we revealed that Stone and von Hauske are 2016 Food & Wine Best New Chefs. Just ahead of the announcement, we caught up with them to find out how natural wine inspires their work in the kitchen.
When you were first coming up with the concept for Contra, was natural wine a part of the equation?