Chef to the Stars David Shamoon found afternoon sunlight and other joys on the Lower East Side
by Frances Madeson
This story began when restaurant consultant David Shamoon, personal chef to a well-liked TV celebrity (I can only reveal that he flies Shamoon out to his Hamptons estate in a limo-copter), was stood up by a big agency broker who was supposed to show him a Co-op Village apartment.
Shamooon spied the LoHo Realty office and serendipitously joined a Sunday afternoon apartment walking tour. He was amazed at LoHo’s inventory, and over several months focused his search on the Hillman apartments, preferring the intimacy of the buildings there. With no particular time constraints, he was able to wait until just the right opportunity came along, which for him meant a place he could design with his own unique vision. It also came with afternoon sunlight. Last September, after a three-month renovation, he moved into his new one bedroom home.
A former Political Science major, Mr. Shamoon trained as chef at the Institute of Culinary Education on 23rd Street. Naturally, the kitchen was an important focus of the renovation. The old kitchen was completely demolished, along with the wall that had enclosed it, and all of its components were replaced from the ground up with a tile floor from Artistic Tile, cherry cabinets from City Cabinets on Ludlow Street (which he highly recommends for its great products and prices), stainless steel Frigidaire Professional Series appliances, a granite countertop, and a spectacular red plastic globe lighting fixture from the Italian designer Kartell. Only the brushed glass backsplash is yet to be installed.
A tall tower, holding his impressive collection of cookbooks, stands on the border of the living room. A favorite volume, with Chez Panisse recipes, is sitting on top.
His most important early influence was his remarkable grandmother, an Iraqi whose peripatetic life led her through Belgium, India, Iran and England, picking up all the cooking flavors along the way. From her he absorbed the connection between food and place, history and community. “It has come as something of a surprise to me that the Lower East Side is relatively lacking in really good, high quality, interesting Jewish food, which is a shame. And, it’s something that I hope to help change.”
Working with 41 Essex, the local Glatt Kosher caterer, Mr. Shamoon is absorbed in the challenging process of creating a new Jewish menu. “It will blend traditional Lower East Side foods with new flavors, reflecting the changes in the neighborhood. The Kosher community has been a captive audience with too few choices. Our goal is to create a place with great food, which just happens to be Kosher, with an historical connection to Jewish communities.”
When asked about food treasures in the neighborhood he confesses, “I buy bialys from Kossar’s, doughnuts from the Doughnut Plant and pickles from The Pickle Guys. But for produce, I shop at Whole Foods.” He also likes the Laboratorio del Gelato on Orchard Street, for the best ice cream in New York, and appetizing emporium Russ and Daughters, which he notes as “a template for what a Lower East Side food establishment should be.”
For Mr. Shamoon, moving to Grand Street was a recipe for success. “I feel I got the best bang for the buck available in Manhattan; I now live in an interesting up and coming neighborhood, and it’s a great investment, financially and in every other way.”
When pressed, he admits that his one sure-to-impress dish is steak with pomegranate sauce. So there.