Mark Strausman: Making the food at Freds as good as the clothes at Barneys

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You were at the Art of Food last year.
We were. We had a great time. It was really cool standing next to our art piece: Pablo Picasso’s Tête de Femme. It was a great evening of food and art. I used to be a partner in the restaurant in the Hamptons in the late ‘80s that had a lot of famous artists coming in. Artists really appreciate good food, and if you look at the history of art, especially the impressionists, they were hanging out in cafes and trading artwork for food. So there is this sympatico relationship between food and artists.
Tell me about Freds at Barneys.
It’s on the 9th floor of Barneys and we’ve been her for about 20 years. We try to make it the food mecca of the store: what Barney’s does in clothes, we do in food. We bring in the best ingredients, we do a lot of local, farm-to-table here.
I mean, you can see it--the place is packed on a Friday at 3:30 in the afternoon.
How did you get started?
I have a degree in hotel management from New York City Tech in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. It’s something I always wanted to do--to be a chef. And back then, there were much less chefs, so it was an opportune time to come into the business. I started here in ‘96, I got picked to do this by the original family members. It seemed like a great fit. I’ve always been a fan of Barneys, I love their clothes, and the whole Barneys style and how they host things.
What are some of your signature dishes?
We were the first ones to do Belgium pomme-frites back in ‘96, I brought that to the menu. We were also one of the first ones to bring spaghetti and meatballs to our menu back in the early 90’s. Our spaghetti and meatballs We are also famous for our chopped salads: The Madison Avenue Salad, Freds Chopped Salad.


  • Mark Strausman at the 2015 Art of Food event

What’s your favorite thing to cook outside of Freds?

Outside of work, my favorite thing is to be cooked for.

See what Freds is serving up at The Art of Food this year by purchasing tickets at:

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