An Insider’s Look At Gotham West Market: Part 2

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As a continuation of last week’s feature, Downtown caught up with three more representatives of the food-centered paradise that is Gotham West Market:

  • Indie Fresh’s Shom Chowdhury
  • Ivan Ramen’s Ivan Orkin
  • GENUINE Roadside’s Chef Brad Farmerie

    Beyond the atmosphere, one of the things that makes Gotham West Market so appealing is that it has something for everyone, no matter their preferences in cuisine or dietary needs. Indie Fresh, as also found in Chelsea Market, is known for its healthy yet delicious fare, carrying the slogan “forget about the cheat day.” Ivan Ramen was created by a New Yorker that did the unthinkable as a foreigner in creating a top-rated ramen shop in Tokyo; Ivan has another location at 25 Clinton Street. GENUINE Roadside is another spot in the GENUINE restaurant series, making food that is inspired by California roadside that can be considered “fast-fine”; Saxon + Parole is one of its sister restaurants as part of the AvroKO Hospitality Group.

    For more information on all things Gotham West Market, visit www.gothamwestmarket.com.

    Within the past few years, New York City has become host to a number of upscale foodcourts. To you, what makes Gotham West Market different from the others?

    Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh: Gotham Market successfully managed to bring a number of top chefs together under one roof who constantly collaborate with each other. The result is a number of chef-made choices under one roof. Gotham Market was also designed to be an upscale food experience from the ground up, unlike a lot of other similar concepts which were converted from something else. It’s very exciting here. Did you know that the market offers free valet bike parking for anyone who rides their bikes there? Amazing.

    Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen: I think Gotham West Market was born from very cooperative small business owners. We all came to the market with the same goals — to increase the exposure of our brands while creating a vibrant, warm, and exciting place for all. We all maintain that commitment, because the market is driven by partners rather than by a landlord. We bring our hospitality expertise to the table and let the food speak for itself.

    Chef Brad Farmerie, GENUINE Roadside: Gotham West Market was the market that started it all, so I think it holds a special place in that category as the one that helped start the trend and set the tone for this new genre in dining. Also, the location — many people talk about being on 11th Avenue as “no mans land,” but it’s been great to cultivate a loyal clientele who live and work in the area and appreciate the diversity that we have brought to the area. Being in Gotham West Market has allowed us to interact with a whole new community and bring our food to them.

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    How did your restaurant wind up in Gotham Market?

    Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh: I was and still am a big fan of the Hell’s Kitchen area and the development that’s going on around here. My partner and Chef, Akhtar Nawab already had another great Mexican fast casual concept in the market. I’m also an active road cyclist and Andrew Crook’s NYC Velo Bike Shop in the Market was a huge draw to me. I liked the idea of an athletic destination and the ability to serve healthy food there in a fun environment.

    Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen: At the market’s inception, they were looking for an anchor tenant — I formed an incredible relationship with the management, and thus opened my first U.S. shop. The market gave me access to a new group of customers that I wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise.

    Chef Brad Farmerie, GENUINE Roadside: AvroKO worked with Gotham West Market to envision the opportunity of that space and was brought on to design, conceptualize, and run the market along with being offered one of the vendor stalls in the market. We created and developed GENUINE Roadside specifically for this location as an ode to Americana — Angus beef burgers, crunchy fried chicken sandwiches, pulled pork, etc. All with healthy and unique twists that make them memorable.

    How would you describe your restaurant to someone who hasn’t yet been there?

    Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh: Pretty simple: We create chef-made healthy eats that taste good — forget the cheat day. Our menu items are grab-and-go or plate-and-dine, designed to be consumed cold or hot. In addition to our retail locations, we deliver everywhere in New York City through our website and most if not all third party delivery portals.

    Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen: Ivan Ramen in Gotham West Market embraces a lot of the concepts of a Japanese ramen shop. The food is easy to order, it comes out quickly, and we offer everything from really classic Tokyo-style broths, to plays on more modern foods — all at a very reasonable price point.

    Do you have a favorite item on your menu?

    Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh: It’s definitely our Wake Up Ashley Coffee and Almond Protein Shake. It’s essentially a meal combined with Grady’s Cold Brew Coffee so you get a boost out of it. I love it because of it’s versatility: breakfast all day, pre-workout, post-workout or snack. It’s also a true collaborative product, designed by trainer — and my girlfriend — Ashley Wilking and Chef Akhtar Nawab.

    Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen: Although I truly enjoy everything we offer, the shoyu and shio ramen are really exceptional. We also have an outstanding vegetarian ramen based on the shoyu broth, that I enjoy as well.

    Chef Brad Farmerie, GENUINE Roadside: Our big best seller is also my top choice: The Buttermilk Battered Fried Chicken Sandwich. It’s a big ol’ piece of spicy chicken with a tangy apple-celeriac slaw topped with a punchy sambal mayo. I could probably eat this every day and be happy. But if I’m going for something a little bit lighter, I’d order up the Ahi Tuna Taco — raw marinated tuna with “border slaw” and spicy aioli stuffed into crispy taco shells.

    Aside from your restaurant, what is your favorite dining spot in New York City?

    Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh: Seamore’s. I love everything on the menu and it’s owned by my boy, and fitness buff, Michael Chernow.

    Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen: I go to Upland and Barney Greengrass as much as I can.

    Chef Brad Farmerie, GENUINE Roadside: I spend a lot of time in all of our restaurant kitchens in the city — Saxon + Parole, PUBLIC and GENUINE Roadside and GENUINE Superette — so I generally like to hit something close to the restaurants like Uncle Boons, or something close to my house in Clinton Hill like Pizza Loves Emily, Olmstead, or Speedy Romeo.

    When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?

    Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh: I like working out at Barry’s Bootcamp or Soul Cycle, riding motorcycles, running and doing long road cycle rides. I’m lucky to have a chick in my life that does all of these things with me. You could say that I like to stay active!

    Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen: All of my free time goes to my family — I take them to eat really good food, which my wife enjoys, and my kids just tolerate. My kids will rate any restaurant four stars if there’s wi-fi.

    Chef Brad Farmerie, GENUINE Roadside: I have kids, Bruno, 8, and Scarlet, 6, so most free time means family time. We do a lot of cooking at home where my kids get to — begrudgingly — help me around the kitchen. They are also active with sports, music, and art so there is a bit of parental participation and support involved in that. I’m also a runner which is one of the only times I get to quiet my mind and escape the city even if just for an hour or so.

    Do you have tickets to any upcoming concerts?

    Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh: Yes — City Of The Sun this Friday. Check them out if you haven’t heard them yet. Amazing.

    Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen: When I was in high school, I used to see so much live music, and now the opportunities get away from me because I’m so busy. I haven’t seen a concert in forever, and every artist I like is 80 years old. I’m planning a family outing to see The Nutcracker and we’ll probably go to the opera at some point, as well.

    Chef Brad Farmerie, GENUINE Roadside: No, but I would love some recommendations…

    At one point you had games tables/ping pong at Gotham West Market. How have you seen the crowd dynamic and/or clientele shift since then?

    Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh: Ping pong rules, we need to bring it back. No one can beat me at ping pong.

    Ivan Orkin, Ivan Ramen: I haven’t seen it change too much over the years. We’re within close proximity to the intrepid and the theatre district, so there’s always a lot of tourists and families that stroll in; especially on the weekend. There’s a lot of fun things to do here, though. People seem to love the photo booth and the operational postcard mail box.

    Finally, any last words for the kids?

    Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh: If you can start good exercise and dietary habits and cut out all the bad crap early, you live a lot better for a longer time of your life. It starts with today.