Refrigerator Look Book: John DeLucie

(Photo: John DeLucie)
John DeLucie
(Photo: John DeLucie by Mark Abrahams)

Chef and celeb-hotspot-maker John DeLucie sticks to a strict Paleo diet six days a week, but that doesn’t mean he tells other people what to eat—or judges their choices.

“I once had a request from a hip-hop artist for a peanut butter and crab meat sandwich…on brioche,” says DeLucie, who was the executive chef of the storied celeb-favorite, The Waverly Inn for years. “I made it very happily.”

As the chef at a whopping four New York City restaurants—The Crown (uptown), Bill’s Food & Drink (Midtown), King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel (Midtown), and The Lion (downtown)—he spends his days around all kinds of less bizarre deliciousness, filling his menus with dishes like zucchini risotto and Atlantic cod with lemon purée.

“I grew up in a pretty typical Italian-American family—my grandparents were all immigrants. Food was everywhere—baptisms, funerals. I became interested in it subconsciously at a young age,” explains DeLucie (who, for the record, is also the proprietor of The Crown and The Lion).

Here, he lets us in on his decidedly non-snobby food shopping habits and how he balances his Paleo lifestyle with a love of pasta. —Molly Gallagher

John DeLucie
(Photo: John DeLucie)

You spend your whole day around food—do you ever just get sick of it? Yes! So much so, I often don’t even know what to eat anymore. I like other people to cook for me.

But your fridge is still pretty stocked. Do you cook at all during the week? Not really. If I’m not at my own restaurant, I’m out at some other one. I love Roberta’s in Brooklyn—it has a fantastic vibe and the food is amazing. It’s my absolute favorite.

Where do you do your shopping? I shop at Trader Joe’s and my friend owns Gourmet Garage, so I shop there quite a bit. I also go to Citarella now and then. In the summer, I go to the green market quite a bit for the restaurants—I got phenomenal strawberries this week. If I spend an evening at The Lion, I’ll buy some stuff and make a special. But I have no idea what I’m going to make before I go. It depends on what’s seasonal and fresh.

Chef quiz: What were you planning to make with the ravioli and Brussels sprouts? Sunday is my eat-whatever-I-want day. And when I can eat whatever I want, it usually involves some sort of pasta. I was going to make a marinara sauce and serve it with the ravioli. It’s from Raffetto’s on Houston Street. I like to make the Brussels sprouts with a lot of bacon. I put the sprouts half side down in bacon fat, then I brown them and toss them with herbs. You don’t see any bacon in the fridge, because I ate it all.

So, you’re a meat eater, eh? During the week I try to maintain my Paleo diet. I eat a lot of lean protein (there’s flat iron steak in the package in front of the Brussels sprouts). I’ve been Paleo for about six or so months. To be completely honest, I was on vacation and happened to see a photo of myself with my shirt off, so I changed the way I was eating. It was a terrific motivator!

Tell us about this ginger beer…It’s a nice antidote for over-eating. It also makes a great dark and stormy.

What would you make if you were having a dinner party tonight? On Saturday, we had seven people over and I made pasta Bolognese, a gigantic salad, and garlic bread on the grill. For dessert, we had a fantastic melon and some berries and cream. I make what’s fresh and good—and in the fridge.

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