Name: Wylie Dufresne
Occupation: Chef, Alder and the trailblazing East Village restaurant wd~50, which is set to close at the end of November.
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Favorite might be a strong word: I was always intrigued by Diamond Jim Brady. His stomach was six times the average human’s when he died. Six times! He seems like the kind of guy who you would like to have a chat with. Or dinner.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
I’ll tell you a food memory because there’s no way … New York City is one of the best eating cities in the world; it’s impossible to pick just one meal. But growing up I remember having my birthday parties at a restaurant on the Upper East Side called Wylie’s (my parents picked it), that’s no longer there. It was good food — I don’t know that I’d call it the best, but they did have a good fried onion loaf.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I stand a lot.
What was your first job in New York?
I think it was a busboy, when I was probably 15. (I’d been working in restaurants since I was 11, but it wasn’t in New York.)
What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. It was okay. I’m a huge Spider-Man fan, and my wife took me. Any date with my wife is a good time.
Do you give money to panhandlers?
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s part of being a good New Yorker.
What’s your drink?
Generally, I’d say wine. Red or white, you choose. I don’t care.
How often do you prepare your own meals?
On the weekends, I pitch in, but at best, I get partial credit. My wife is a really good cook. I generally man the grill if there’s grilling to be done.
What’s your favorite medication?
Probably Ibuprofen. Not gonna lie, I got a lot of aches and pains.
What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
Well, I’d have to say my kids, right? Wouldn’t that be the best thing in my apartment? But also we can see the water, which is pretty nice. It’s not something that ever crossed my mind as a New Yorker, that I would have a view of the water.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen on the subway?
I don’t know if crazy is the right word, but I did one time as a young lad press my face up against the glass of the front car and and rode from, like, the north end of Central Park all the way down to the World Trade Center. That was pretty fun.
When was the last time you stayed out past 3 a.m.?
It’s not staying out, it’s staying up till. And it was probably last month. My wife went on a business trip and I just stayed up watching movies. But I paid the price because my kids get up at 5:30 a.m.
Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
The old one, for sure. It had so much more soul. I lived just west of it when it was changing, on Tenth Avenue in the 40s, and I used to rollerblade late at night in Times Square after dinner service. It was a good way to unwind, and it was so cool. Now it’s weird because it’s never dark.
What do you think of Mayor De Blasio?
Well, you know, I think he’s done a pretty good job with the educational system thus far. I suppose the bar was fairly low, but, you know, I hope it works out for us all.
What do you hate most about living in New York?
Rent. Rent is getting high!
If you could banish one person from New York forever, who would it be?
It would be that guy who didn’t call and cancel his reservation for six on Saturday night. He knows who he is.
When’s the last time you drove a car?
Sunday. We go to and from our home in Connecticut on the weekends.
Finish this sentence: The NYPD _____.
I think I’m gonna pass on this one. It scares me.
Times, Post, or Daily News?
Where do you go to be alone?
The movies. I often fall asleep at the movies, which is another good reason to go. Who doesn’t like a nap?
What makes someone a New Yorker?
I think that would take a while to answer, but one of the words that come to mind, I’d say, is resiliency. We New Yorkers, we’re a resilient bunch.