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DinnerLab: Delmonico's - Restaurant History Remixed

Welcome to MOFAD’s DinnerLab: a new series of experiential dining events exploring the world of food and drink one subject at a time. Whether you are taking a trip to Ancient Rome, dining on the International Space Station, or exploring indigenous food cultures, DinnerLab will you take you on a one-of-a-kind culinary journey with special guests and exciting menus.

Older than the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Central Park, Delmonico’s opened in Manhattan’s Financial District in 1837 as the country’s first restaurant, forever changing the American dining experience as we know it today. 

Known for its classic culinary innovations, such as Eggs Benedict, Chicken a la Keene, Lobster Newburg, Baked Alaska, the Wedge Salad, and the Delmonico Steak, Delmonico’s has also pioneered countless fine-dining trends, from the power lunch and serving oysters on the half shell, to being the first U.S. restaurant to use tablecloths, issue a cookbook, feature a printed á la carte menu, feature a separate wine list, and even to allow “unchaperoned” women to dine independently of men.

Join Delmonico’s and MOFAD for a one-of-a-kind, immersive evening of restaurant history, as we take a deliciously deep dive into Delmonico’s rich culinary legacy. The evening will be hosted by tv/radio personality Max Tucci, grandson of famed restaurateur Oscar Tucci, who owned Delmonico’s from 1926-1987, feature reinterpreted classic cocktails by renowned mixologist and cocktail historian David Wondrich, and never before seen historic relics, photographs, and menus from the private archives of Oscar Max Tucci.

Delmonico’s Restaurant Executive Chef Billy Oliva and MOFAD Executive Chef Eric Kwan have set out to remix nearly two centuries of restaurant history with modern interpretations of Delmonico’s most beloved classics, including:

  • Chicken 'a la Keene' Chip & Dip

  • Crispy Eggs Benedict

  • XO Oysters Jim Brady

  • “Ladies Only” Newberg Iceberg

  • Iced Alaska Kakigōri (by The Little One)

Ticket price includes tastings, cocktails, beer, and wine.

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BILLY OLIVA

For nearly a decade, Executive Chef Billy Oliva has helmed the iconic kitchens of Delmonico’s—America’s first formal restaurant and birthplace of classics such as the Delmonico Steak, Lobster Newburg, and Baked Alaska—continuing to advance its rich culinary legacy with his modern, seasonally-driven approach. Throughout his prolific career, Chef Billy has been recognized by some of the world’s most prestigious culinary institutions—from earning his first Michelin Bib Gourmand distinction in 2006 at age 31 to being named one of the country’s top chefs by Best Chefs America. His talents have also been highlighted by leading media outlets including CNN, CBS News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg, BBC, NPR, Cooking Channel, Food Network, Hallmark Channel, The View and Business Insider.

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ERIC KWAN

Chef Eric Kwan, a native New Yorker, is American-born Chinese. His dedication to food started at the very early age of 7, helping his family in the kitchen. His passion for cooking was so immense, he started his first job prepping at a French restaurant when he was only 13 years old. After graduating high school, Eric pursued his dreams of being a chef, completing the culinary arts program at the French Culinary Institute during the day. At night, he practiced his wok skills at a gourmet Chinese eatery in Chinatown. Eric’s ambition for cooking was so intense he decided to fortify his foundation further by getting an Associates degree at The Culinary Institute of America. In his professional career, he has continued to gain vast experience, working alongside the world’s best chefs in the New York restaurant circuit for the last 26 years.

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MAX TUCCI

Television & radio personality Max Tucci is the grandson of famed NYC restaurateur Oscar Tucci, who presided over Delmonico’s beginning in 1926, during the height of Prohibition, and for several glamourous decades during the tightknit family’s more than 60-year ownership reign. Having grown up in the kitchen and behind the bar of America's first restaurant, Max—who today owns the largest archives from Delmonico’s—developed an intimate knowledge of the fine dining business at a very early age. As a child, Max was charged with polishing the restaurant’s Christofle flatware and making sure the Lalique crystal ashtrays and Baccarat glasses sparkled. While doing his chores, Max would soak up the chatter of socialites gossiping over cocktails, stockbrokers trading insider tips, and A-List celebrities swapping stories in the sophisticated scene—his steadfast love for entertaining and all things culinary took root and continued to grow into his adulthood. Today Max, a 2019 Telly Award-winner, has parlayed his love of cuisine and entertaining into a successful television and radio career; he has interviewed more than 800 guests on his L.A. Talk Radio show, Max & Friends, which is now approaching its 12th year. Max is currently working on a culinary travel show pilot, and has led television cooking demonstrations and satellite media tours. He has been featured as a culinary expert on shows such as What's Cooking, The Dr. Steve Show, and Check Please with host Chef Michelle Bernstein, as well as on eHow.com. His stories about Delmonico’s have been published in a variety of periodicals, and he is currently writing a book on Delmonico’s rich history.

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DAVID WONDRICH

David Wondrich is widely hailed as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the history of the cocktail and one of the founders of the modern craft cocktail movement. The Senior Drinks Columnist for the Daily Beast, Dr. Wondrich (he has a PhD in Comparative Literature) is the author of countless newspaper and magazine articles (including almost 17 years’ worth written as Esquire’s Drinks Correspondent) and five books, including the hugely influential Imbibe!, the first cocktail book to win a James Beard award (2007; an expanded and thoroughly revised edition was published in April, 2015), and Punch, which came out in late 2010 to broad acclaim and did much to spark the current boom in punch-making. In 2019, he came in at number three in Drinks International’s inaugural list of 100 most-influential people in the bar world, based on a poll of top industry professionals. At present, he is immersed in the Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, a multi-year project. As a consultant, he has been involved in the creation of a number of spirits that are found on the backbars of practically every craft cocktail bar on the planet, including Ransom Old Tom gin and the multiple award-winning Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum. He is a founding partner in Beverage Alcohol Resource, America’s leading advanced training program for bartenders and other mixologists, and a frequent guest lecturer at venues such as the Smithsonian Institute, the American Museum of Natural History and top bars on five continents and ships at sea. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

DELMONICO’S

Older than the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Central Park, Delmonico’s opened in Manhattan’s Financial District in 1837 as the country’s first restaurant, forever transforming the American dining experience as we know it today. Over the next 181 years, the revered birthplace of American classics such as the Delmonico Steak, Eggs Benedict, Baked Alaska, Chicken a la Keene, and Lobster Newburg went on to define culinary excellence as the originator of countless culinary trends and “firsts,” including being the first U.S. restaurant to introduce farm-to-table cuisine, issue a cookbook, feature a printed á la carte menu, furnish a separate wine list, serve the hamburger, and even admit female diners independently. Delmonico’s has also hosted the likes of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Napoleon III, JFK, Oscar Wilde (and many more!). Credited as one of the Ten Restaurants That Changed America, Delmonico’s is recognized as the blueprint for today’s $780 billion restaurant industry. Fast forward nearly two centuries, and Delmonico’s has survived everything from the Great Depression to Hurricane Sandy — enduring today as a celebrated New York City mainstay and living culinary museum that continues to draw people from all over the globe with its classic cuisine and gilded-age ambiance. Delmonico’s Restaurant is located at 56 Beaver Street, New York, NY. www.delmonicos.com // Instagram: @delmonicosnyc // Facebook: @delmonicosnyc // Twitter: @delmonicosnyc

Earlier Event: September 19
Dining at Downton: A Culinary History