Chef Mary Attea Of Raf's Dishes On All Things Breakfast

by Christie Grimm · September 9, 2023

    They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but how often in this on-the-go to-go-loving city are you truly taking a beat and stopping to smell the croissants?

    A decidedly delightful place to spend any time of day, new culinary scene staple Raf's has officially moved into the morning business, serving up a host of expertly edited breakfast classics with an enticing twist. A Ricotta Tartine with summer squash and heirloom tomatoes. Local Yogurt with peaches, strawberries, fennel pollen, pistachio granola and olive oil. A Breakfast Sandwich with Italian sausage, caciocavallo and broccoli rabe on a brioche roll. 

    And don't even get us started on the pastry situation... A Prosciutto and Taleggio Croissant? A Garlic Scape and Funghi Danish?! Pure sorcery of the savory persuasion.

    But of course what else would one expect from Chef Mary Attea, the celebrated force behind the hit restaurant's exciting take on Italian and French cuisine? Splitting her time between Raf's and her Michelin-starred kitchen at Musket Room, the over-achiever's certainly no stranger to getting an early start. 

    Curious to hear exactly how she spends her morning, which way she prefers her coffee, oh, and her professional opinion on the perfect number of pastries in a pastry basket?

    So, what time are you waking up for work?
    Usually between 7-8 am. 

    Are you one of those crazy morning people who's happy about getting out of bed?
    I wouldn't say crazy, but I do like to get a jump start on the day. If it's a day off though I like to linger a little longer under the sheets.

    Anything keep you up at night... like, oh, I don't know, the stress of maintaining your Michelin star for Musket Room?
    Yes, existential dread. 

    What's the first website you check?
    I check out Instagram on my phone in bed. Then when I'm up, the NY Times / Wordle.

    What's something you wish you did in the mornings?
    I wish I lived on the beach so I could wake up and go for an early morning swim in the ocean.

    What's your morning routine when you've nowhere to be?
    I enjoy lounging on the couch with some coffee, reading the news, detaching from work for a minute. I love to take my dog on longer walks, especially along the Hudson River. 

    Are you a breakfast person?
    Not really. A quick bite to hold me over to lunch

    Sweet or savory to start the day?
    A little of both? I love a banana or piece of fruit and soft scrambled eggs.

    Coffee, tea, juice?
    Coffee... strong with a splash of oat milk. 

    What's your commute look like?
    I live about a mile across town from work, so I just ride over in under 10 minutes on my old, (t)rusty 70's Schwinn.

    What's the first thing you do when you get to Raf's?
    Drink another coffee or espresso. Check in with my team, managers and partners. Try not to eat a pastry but usually end up eating a pastry. 

    Who's your favorite person at work these days?
    They know who they are. 

    What's your personal go-to on the breakfast menu at the moment?
    The omelette with creme fraiche and trout roe. Simple, classic and the touch of tarragon and lemon make it my ideal dish.

    Most overrated breakfast dish?
    I've never been a fan of eggs benedict. 

    What's the key to making the perfect omelette?
    Low, gentle cooking and butter. Get a lot of tiny, soft curds and then just gently roll it onto the plate so it doesn't over cook.

    The magic number of pastries in a pastry basket?

    Which would you actually say... a pain au chocolat, or a chocolate croissant?
    Pain au Chocolat.

    Ideal morning soundtrack? 
    I've been listening to a lot of King Princess these days on my walk/ride to work. But nothing is better than Barry White's "The First, The Last, My Everything" to really get the day started right.

    [Photos courtesy Raf's]