The Essence of Who We Are

A world-renowned chef discusses his life and craft

Venture Productions

For Michael Anthony (B.A. '90, French), food is so much more than sustenance. It's art. It's style. It's an expression of who he is.

And it's a decorated career, too. Anthony is the executive chef of Gramercy Tavern, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in New York City. Anthony has won a multitude of awards throughout his career — including the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef award, which The New Yorker calls the "Best Picture of the Oscars of the food world."

But Anthony hasn't let his success go to his head. He's personable and down-to-earth, as much at home in a t-shirt and jeans as he is in his chef's jacket. Within the rarefied air of the Manhattan restaurant scene, Anthony seems as approachable as an old friend. He's keenly aware of the unexpected twists and turns that life can take, and he knows as much as anyone that finding success and following your passion aren't mutually exclusive.

Show transcript

00:01 --> 00:04
[Ambient music plays.]

00:22 --> 00:23
Michael Anthony: "I got lucky."

00:23 --> 00:27
"I did not see this chapter in my life coming."

00:27 --> 00:30
"Maybe that was a lesson in life ..."

00:30 --> 00:33
"That, as we grow older, sometimes

00:33 --> 00:36
we become a little less receptive to surprise changes in our lives."

00:38 --> 00:41
"The day I showed up here, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge."

00:41 --> 00:43
"I was thrilled to see it firsthand."

00:43 --> 00:47
"There was no turning back. I've been here since."

00:49 --> 00:52
"During my time as a student in Bloomington, I most definitely

00:53 --> 00:56
"did not know that I wanted to work at a restaurant and become a chef."

00:58 --> 01:01
"And the openings that I achieved through

01:01 --> 01:07
"studying languages at Indiana University
gave me an introduction to a world

01:07 --> 01:15
"that I wouldn't have had, you know, had I
pursued a much more tactile approach to working."

01:15 --> 01:20
"With a little hindsight, I think that a lesson learned

01:20 --> 01:24
"from the path that I took is that, if you
continue to follow your heart,

01:24 --> 01:28
"boy, it's surprising how many interesting
things you might find."

01:31 --> 01:33
"Walking in the door every day,

01:33 --> 01:37
"you feel a sense of responsibility to uphold all the work that was done before us."

01:41 --> 01:43
"I've been here for 12 years now,

01:43 --> 01:45
"and you learn something new every day."

01:46 --> 01:51
"Gramercy Tavern is -- each and every day, with every dish and every gesture -- a story."

01:52 --> 01:57
"It's a story that we're telling. It's supposed to be unique to this place, and hopefully unique to this specific time."

01:58 --> 02:00
[Music grows more energetic.]

02:03 --> 02:04
"You cannot hold back."

02:04 --> 02:08
"It's such a big and busy and beloved restaurant that there's no hiding."

02:10 --> 02:15
"Of all of the things that I learned as a
university student, I love the fact that

02:15 --> 02:20
"I learned to polish my reading, writing,
and speaking skills."

02:21 --> 02:27
"Every single day that I work in a restaurant, the way in which we are able to process information ..."

02:28 --> 02:31
"... the way in which we communicate that and share it with people ...

02:31 --> 02:35
"is the essence of who we are and how successful we become."

02:35 --> 02:38
[Music fades away.]

Venture Production Group

This film was produced by Venture Production Group. Andrew Lee (B.A. ’06, Telecommunications) serves as executive producer for the company, and Ryan Newman  (B.A. ’07, Telecommunications) serves as creative director.