Ever since 1999, when Chef Gabrielle Hamilton put canned sardines and Triscuits and on the first menu of her tiny thirty-seat East Village restaurant, Prune has nonchalantly broken countless rules of the food world. The rule that a successful restaurant must breed an empire, the rule that chefs who happen to be women should unconditionally support one another, and the rule that great chefs don’t make great writers. Prune has always been an idiosyncratic restaurant, with no culinary mission other than to serve what Gabrielle likes to eat in an environment she wants to eat in.
Gabrielle would be the first to say that her career and eventual success as a chef didn’t come easy. She started out her illustrious career as a dishwasher at the age of 12 in her hometown of New Hope, Pennsylvania, but then went to Hampshire College in Massachusetts before returning to food. She moved to New York and started working in catering, but then moved to Michigan and pursued a master of fine arts degree in fiction writing at the University of Michigan. To help makes ends meet, she picked up a part-time gig cooking yet again, and upon graduation, Gabrielle returned to New York in 1999 and opened Prune. Since then, she has been nominated for Best Chef NYC in 2009 and 2010 by the James Beard Foundation. In 2011, she won the category.
Gabrielle, always the reluctant chef, has not only just celebrated the 15-year anniversary of her New York classic, Prune, but has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Bon Appetit, Saveur and Food and Wine Magazine. Her work has been anthologized in the Best Food Writing series every year between 2001 and 2006. And in March 2011, Gabrielle’s New York Times best selling memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter was published by Random House. Her memoir garnered her a James Beard Award for Writing and Literature in 2012.