Rebelle – Exploration through Food
Photography by Sarah Elliott
“With food, it’s pretty easy to continue to explore and express oneself. The plate is the canvas and the ingredients provide the colors to play with. When composing a dish and a menu, I like trying to use the entirety of the color spectrum. Not only am I making sure it’s pleasing to the palate but also to the eye. Colors drive a lot of the dishes at Rebelle.”
Talk about a swoony statement! I recently had the privilege of stepping into the kitchen at Rebelle in lower Manhattan to cook with Chef Daniel Eddy. From the moment my eyes fell upon the restaurant’s impeccably-curated Instagram feed, I was without a doubt swooning. I was hooked and Chef Daniel and I became Insta-friends. What commanded my attention online was the obvious creativity and consideration for every last detail. There was the mouthwatering food itself, but also the artful plating, composition of each capture, lighting and perfectly-controlled color palette. The Rebelle feed was telling a story – it served up not just random food images but a focused vision I knew could only be trickling down from the master behind the dishes. What I was also struck by was the design and décor of the space. Again strictly through glimpses on Instagram, I became intrigued – and this is what ultimately caused me to experience the restaurant. I just knew in my bones there was some crazy foodie-décor synergy going on. We spoke the same language.
The walls of Rebelle are clad in a perfect, cool grey-tone paint that mimics the look of concrete. The bar and reception desk are outfitted in black and purple veined marble. Fittingly, it’s called “lilac marble” — and it just happens to be the exact variety I have spec-ed for my new townhouse. The design of the space is layered and minimal at once, clearly exhibiting restraint and refinement. During the renovation some industrial elements were revealed, and thankfully embraced, because of budget restrictions. I always say that sometimes limitations cause us to get more creative and dig deeper. Constraints usually yield better results!
Mirroring the décor, in the kitchen Chef Daniel’s food is also layered, pure and sophisticated – it’s steeped in classic techniques. Chef Daniel describes his food as contemporary French, respecting ingredients and tradition. And his brilliant advice for all us home cooks? Slow down! Long and low cooking temps let flavors develop deeply over time.
I just loved watching Chef Daniel immersed in his craft. As we created a vegetable consummé with braised turnip, we discussed the trajectory that brought him to this moment. I already knew he was an artist with his food, but upon chatting I found that he really does have a background in the arts, having studied photography before he entered the food space. And my favorite tidbit from our day in the kitchen? It was actually about his mom, who recognized his clear passion for food and encouraged him to study further. Just as mamas do, she went ahead and sent a culinary school brochure to Daniel without prompting – gotta love a mother’s nudge!
Chef Daniel went on to cook in his hometown of NYC for four years before exploring Paris, apprenticing, helping to open a restaurant abroad and then finally returning to NYC to open Rebelle. And there you have it. With Nicaraguan roots, a love of photography, an NYC state of mind and some serious French training, you get a chef that appreciates art, beauty and his surroundings as much as he respects the food itself. And all the while, he remains true to himself and his vision. When I asked Chef Daniel to share a food trend he partakes in, his response was genius. “I’m not sure about what’s trendy,” he said. “I’m old school. I like tried and true.”