Allie Plumer had just opened one of the hottest restaurants in New York, but she could tell that something wasn’t right. Here’s what happens when an uninsured restaurant worker is suddenly in a very expensive fight for their life.
She remembers sitting on a red tricycle in the sun when she was three years old and having a feeling of euphoria consume her. She has no words for what this is; that would come later. This happens on and off until she is seven, when it abruptly stops, replaced by intense migraines. In her thirties the euphoria returns, this time accompanied by a number of other feelings that are mysterious and unsettling. By now she’s working as a chef and about to open what will become the hottest spot in town. A few mornings a week she wakes up to the smell of burning rubber. The sensation is accompanied by an overwhelming rush of nostalgia and anxiety. “I’d hear my heart pounding in my head,” she says. “I’d become sweaty with fear and feel like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
She is setting up a new kitchen, hiring her crew and designing a menu, so she assumes this is stress. Deep down she fears it might be something else. But what? Demonic possession? Hallucinations? A descent into madness? She has no idea and no time to worry about it. There is a highly-anticipated restaurant to open, and the most powerful critic in the land is already polishing his pen and saddling his white horse. This is destined to be the defining moment of her young career. So she does what any good chef would, in pretty much any situation: she puts her head down and gets to work.
This is the story of Allie Plumer.
Plumer grew up in Rhode Island. In college she started working at the New York City Greenmarkets for the legendary Bill Maxwell. Her shift would start at 5 a.m. “Bill was a real salt of the earth farmer, wildly popular with the big name chefs. I didn’t know what kale was when I started,” she tells me over the phone from her family home in Cranston, RI. “Food and cooking was all we would talk about. It was the foundation of my career.”
Awards & Press
- James Beard Award