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.