He's the first non-chef to be honored.
Danny Meyer is one of the most influential people in the world right now—back in 2015, Time made it official. He’s the successful restaurateur behind Shake Shack and Gramercy Tavern, considered by this very publication to be one of the must-visit restaurants in New York City. Meyer, currently CEO of Union Square Hospitality, which also includes popular spots like Daily Provisions and Union Square Café, seems capable of making so many different types of restaurants a hit—from the upscale fast casual burger joint, to the elegant eatery with a comfort-food twist to, soon, a pizzeria. His restaurants have won 28 James Beard awards.
The culinary world is now acknowledging his uncanny prowess in the restaurant world with the Julia Child Award, given to “an individual who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America, eats, cooks, and drinks.”
Although the award is only in its third year, Meyer is the first non-chef to win the award. Past honorees include Jacques Pépin and Rick Bayless. Meyer will use the $50,000 grant to support Share Our Strength, the non-profit organization behind the No Kid Hungry campaign.
“Danny demonstrates that you do not have to be a chef to make an impact. His innovative approach to dining and hospitality, like that of Julia, has been both ground-breaking and influential in changing the way America eats and drinks,” Eric W. Spivey, Chairman of The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts said in a statement.
On CBS This Morning, which called their guest “one of the greatest restaurateurs New York has ever seen,” Meyer revealed that his next venture is a casual pizzeria called Martina. The new restaurant, a riff on his fancier pizza place, Marta, won’t have table service. Meyer says a restaurant he visited on Julia Child’s recommendation called La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara, served as inspiration for Martina. He pays homage to Child, telling the show that she taught him that “food was really about joy and pleasure.”
If Meyer’s past successes are any indication, Martina will probably be a hit. We’ll just have to wait until August, when the pizzeria opens its doors in the East Village, to see if the Meyer touch will once again work its magic.