The Meatpacking night of the breakfast battle

BY BETH KAISERMAN | It’s Sunday morning, and the restaurant is quiet and calm. You turn on the ovens in a haze of bodega coffee and flashbacks of the 500 burgers you cooked the night before. It’s time to prep the kitchen for brunch service.

The idea of a breakfast challenge may sound daunting to anyone who hates mornings, but especially for restaurant industry folks who would prefer never seeing an omelet or mimosa again. Who wants to bother being competitive before 10:30 a.m.?

Enter the Meatpacking District’s upcoming Battle of the Breakfasts, which will be held Monday night Feb. 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event will put restaurants head to head to see who can create the tastiest breakfast for dinner.

The list of culinary competitors includes STK, Dos Caminos and Untitled (at the Whitney Museum), along with breakfast staples like BEC, Doughnuttery and Bubby’s.

Bodega Negra, on W. 16th St., is counting on its Mexican breakfast to win the day — or rather, the night.
Bodega Negra, on W. 16th St., is counting on its huevos rancheros to win the day — or rather, the night.


The idea is getting people to realize there’s more to the neighborhood than just nightlife, Lauren Danziger, executive director of the Meatpacking District Management Association, which runs the Meatpacking Business Improvement District, said. (Locals don’t use the nickname “MePa,” she confirmed.)

People moved into the Meatpacking District in the 1820s due to epidemics in the main section of the city. Markets began appearing in the 1840s, mostly for produce, and two acres of the area became known as Gansevoort Market. There were 250 slaughterhouses and packing plants by 1900, but today only a few meat businesses remain in operation.

Billed as a “24-hour neighborhood,” the area has changed drastically over the last 20 years, especially since the 2000s when the High Line park was created — the first section opened in 2009 — and the recent opening of the relocated Whitney Museum of American Art.

“Fashion and design is huge, and art and culture with the opening of the new Whitney,” Danziger said, though adding, “There’s a really amazing food and hospitality culture.”

Of the New York Times’ 2015 Best Restaurants list, neighborhood spot Santina serves coastal Italian cuisine from Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznik. There’s no shortage of other celebrated restaurants in the neighborhood.

“It went from being a destination where people came to eat to a destination to where top chefs came to eat,” Danziger said. “We didn’t want just another tasting event. Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?”

Tyler Austern, executive chef of The Chester, located in the Gansevoort Hotel, will serve up his take on lox, eggs and onions. His Japanese version will have ikura (Japanese salmon roe), quail egg and scallions. The Chester serves breakfast every day and is open 24 hours, sporting a popular beer garden in the back.

“It’s a unique atmosphere with the beer garden, an indoor/outdoor feel,” Austern said. “We pride ourselves in being that kind of blue-collar, relaxed environment in a more built-up, ritzy kind of scene.”
The event will also feature brunch cocktails and live music.

Doughnuts, from Doughnuttery in the Chelsea Market, will definitely be hard to resist.
Doughnuts, from Doughnuttery in the Chelsea Market, will definitely be hard to resist.



Doughnuttery will bring the sweet fried delights, but owner Evan Feldman says the event is about more than being No. 1.

“I’m really not approaching it as a competition,” he said. “I’m more into showcasing our product to people who may not have had it before and just having a good time with it.”

A good time can include mini doughnuts in flavors like the Purple Pig — with maple, bacon and purple potatoes — or tasty classics like rainbow sprinkle. Doughnuts are made to order at the Doughnuttery stall in Chelsea Market.

“We think doughnuts can be eaten at any time of the day,” Feldman said. “It makes a great dessert item throughout the day.”

The neighborhood is unique because it’s pretty much all commercial, so businesses are very supportive of each other, Danziger added. The BID district is bounded by W. 17th St. on the north, Horatio St. on the south and the West Side Highway and Eighth Ave. on the west and east, respectively.

The breakfast creations of Creamline — like this peanut butter and jelly yogurt shake — in the Chelsea Market, are mouthwatering.
The breakfast creations of Creamline — like this peanut butter and jelly yogurt shake — in the Chelsea Market, are mouthwatering.


“We’re hoping New Yorkers come and experience Meatpacking in a way they haven’t before and get a true taste of the hospitality that’s here every day,” Danziger said.

Austern agrees that there’s a lot to be explored in this tucked-away neighborhood that he’s called home for about a year and a half.

“There are misconceptions about every neighborhood,” he said. “It’s tough to know unless you’ve truly seen and experienced it all.”

Prices are $59 for a tasting ticket to every restaurant’s breakfast menu, plus cash bar, while for $80, you get a tasting ticket to all the breakfast menus, plus an open-bar wristband for unlimited Bloody Mary’s, Mimosas, screwdrivers and Sixpoint beer. Tickets are not refundable.

For more information and tickets, go to https://www.meatpacking-district.com/events/breakfast-for-dinner. Any unsold tickets will be available at the door.