For much of the past decade, John DeLucie has been New York City’s most sought-after chef. As founding chef and partner of The Waverly Inn, DeLucie and his take on classic American cuisine attracted both the celebrity crowd and serious food fans, who were wowed by his original and eye-opening offerings. The Lion, Crown, Bills Food and Drink and now Bedford & Co has solidified his stature as both a serious chef and restaurateur that has New Yorkers clambering for a reservation.
The Lion has been called “eye-catching” (W Magazine), “the latest addition to the power pantheon” (Time Out New York), and “the edge of the volcano” (Gael Greene) that “has the media, fashion and pretty folks out in force” (Women’s Wear Daily). But it’s not the celebrity clientele that demands the most attention. In the end, it all comes down to John’s simple cooking—a passion that was instilled in him as a little boy.
DeLucie’s Italian grandfather owned a fruit and vegetable market, and would bring home a bounty of fresh produce for his grandmother to turn into meals showcasing fresh seasonal flavors. Those early taste lessons left a lasting impression: Although John tried his hand at a few 9-to-5 jobs after graduating from NYU, he eventually gave in to his natural culinary curiosity, first taking courses at New York’s New School for Culinary Arts, and then getting his first food job, chopping 40-pound bags of onions in the back room of Dean & DeLuca on Prince Street. After a tour of Europe’s great cuisine centers—France and Italy, DeLucie began to sculpt his own cooking style, fusing modern and European cooking techniques. Upon returning to the States, John landed a job in the kitchen of the groundbreaking Southwestern eatery, Arizona 206 which received 3 stars from the New York Times. In 1996, he took over as Chef de Cuisine at the venerable seafood restaurant Oceana under the tutelage of Chef Rick Moonan. Today, DeLucie’s style remains as distinctively simple as it is universally praised.