In early 2019, Victoria Blamey took up the position of head chef at the famous Gotham Bar and Grill restaurant in Manhattan. Despite some initial controversy – with a longtime clientele, the restaurant was not yet ripe for change – Blamey received a three-star hat from New York Times critic Pete Wells. A few months later, in March 2020, the restaurant closed during the early days of the pandemic.
Blamey, who previously worked as head chef for Chumley’s, has continued his brief stint at Gotham Bar and Grill with a number of on-site chef gigs. She resides at the Mayflower Inn and Spa in Connecticut, Fulgurance Laundromat in Brooklyn, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Hudson Valley. Blamey was at a popular farmhouse restaurant when she was approached by a space partner at 28 Cortlandt Alley in TriBeCa with the opportunity to open her own restaurant. The project that was originally slated to open in space failed.
She entered the kitchen at Mena in early September. No dish is born out of need and customer expectations — “I don’t have to keep items on the menu for X years,” she says — and Blamey instead focus on building a menu and space that reflects her. culinary preferences and backgrounds. The prix fixed menu taps into her Chilean heritage, focusing on seafood and vegetables. “Things that I cherish more,” she said. “A little more emphasis on what some people think may be esoteric.”
Dishes include scallops with squash leche de tigre and aji limon, Kyoto carrots with Grenada peppers and bagels, dumplings with oxtail broth and halibut with adobo mezcal. The beverage program highlights South American spirits and fresh agua, and wines of organic and biological origin.
“It’s about health, it’s about climate change,” Blamey said. towards mindful eating.
At Mena, responsibly farmed seafood is at the heart. The pandemic has also made certain ingredients, such as quails, harder to source as small local farmers face challenges; dripping effect upwards. “Chefs have to understand that times are changing, and you have to change with time. We need to have some social responsibility in terms of how we impact our customers and restaurant visitors. “
The restaurant is located on quaint Cortlandt Alley, named after her great aunt, Filomena, who raised her mother and influenced Blamey. Cycle Projects designed a 50-seat dining room with a natural and airy aesthetic; Blamey said the idea was to create a highly personal space with “an organic spirit”. The space is decorated with photography and pottery in keeping with Blamey’s South American culinary background and experience in New York.
“There must be a connection with dish and the people we work with,” she added. “It becomes very personal.”
Mena opens on January 27.
https://wwd.com/eye/lifestyle/chef-victoria-blamey-opens-mena-solo-restaurant-1235053769/ Chef Victoria Blamey Opens Mena, Her First Solo Restaurant – WWD