Chef John Fraser, of Dovetail and Narcissa, has long been known as a chef who has a particular way with vegetables. But NIX, which opened just under a year ago, is his first full-fledged vegetarian restaurant. Within that first year, NIX was awarded one Michelin star — rare for such a new restaurant, and making it the only vegetarian restaurant in the US to earn a star in the 2017 Michelin Guide. We spoke to Fraser about the restaurant and its success.
Describe the concept of NIX to us — how does it differ from other vegetarian restaurants in New York? NIX is a restaurant that celebrates plants, as a concept. Our proximity to Union Square and all the great farmers of the Northeast make our job pretty easy. In terms of differentiation, I can’t really say, because I haven’t eaten out at many, except for Dirt Candy, which I love.
You’ve been known for quite awhile as a chef that excels with vegetables — have you been intending to open a vegetarian restaurant for some time? Yes. It seemed like a natural progression to take our vegetable focus further with NIX. Our Meatless Monday at Dovetail and rotisserie vegetables at Narcissa have both been so successful – I realized that people aren’t eating out any less, but they are changing the way they eat while they’re out.
A Michelin star is an incredible honor. Why do you think NIX caught the attention of the Michelin inspectors? I have no idea, but we are very honored.
Tell us about one dish that you feel really exemplifies your cooking style. The ribbons of jicama with fresno chili and blood oranges – it’s a unique, simple and clean dish with a juxtaposition of sweet and spicy flavors. Feminine and strong.