On Monday, teenage chef Flynn McGarry rolled out the first stage of his new restaurant Gem. McGarry has spent the past five years wowing New York City palates with a series of pop-up offerings. At the tender age of 19, he has finally launched his first permanent restaurant in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
McGarry found a love for cooking at an early age. As a toddler, his favorite activities were playing in his toy kitchen and dressing up as his favorite chefs for Halloween. The son of a professional photographer and a television executive, he grew up in Los Angeles. His parents encouraged his love of fine cuisine by building him an upscale kitchen in their home. At the age of 11, McGarry launched a supper club called Eureka, where he regaled family friends with sophisticated culinary creations. At age 16, McGarry took his popup concept to New York, offering tasting menus in different venues. He even spent some time working at Grant Achatz’s Aliena in Chicago and briefly apprenticed with Daniel Humm.
McGarry has become something of a cooking celebrity. His career has been closely followed by the New York Times, and he has appeared on talk shows like Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Larry King Now. NBC even tried to make a comedy series based on his career, but the show was never picked up. His Instagram account has over 75,000 followers, and a documentary about his life recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
With his new restaurant, McGarry hopes to bring his unique twist to cuisine to a wider audience in New York. The restaurant is divided into two parts: The Living Room and The Dining Room. The Living Room serves cafe-style food like pastries and the Dining Room will feature a sit-down menu when it officially opens on February 27.
While most teens are just content to hang out with friends, Flynn McGarry is busy cooking, running restaurants, and setting himself up for success. Eating at his pop-up restaurants and special events has cost guests over $100 a person, which is even more impressive given the amount of talent that NYC has to offer.
McGarry has continued to focus on his business ventures, working on opening Gem, his first permanent restaurant. Gem has a unique concept, being split into two sides. The Living Room is the more casual part of the restaurant and has just started to serve up coffee and pastries. It’s now open daily from 8am to 5pm.
At the end of February, the other side of the restaurant – The Dining Room – will open up. It will provide guests with a fine-dining experience, serving up a set menu for $155.
McGarry thought back to his time hosting dinner parties when coming up with the menu and design of The Dining Room. He wants people to get settled in and enjoy drinks before nibbling on small dishes. Then, a pasta course and meat course will be served, with people being welcome to stay as long as they like. The chef takes advantage of his skills with house-made pasta and all part of an animal, and diners can expect seasonal changes as the restaurant continually strives to use fresh ingredients.
The young chef has staged at world-class restaurants, including Eleven Madison Park, Alinea, and Next. He started cooking for others when he was 12, and he moved to New York when he was 16.
Gem is located at 116 Forsyth Street in the Lower East Side.