Q&A with Kingsley’s Roxanne Spruance

Q&A with Kingsley’s Roxanne Spruance

East Village newcomer Kingsley

At the East Village’s Kingsley, French classics are turned on end with unusual ingredients. IN New York caught up with the inventive chef this winter. Take a bite with founder and chef Roxanne Spruance. Kingsley, 190 Ave. B, at E. 12th St., 212.674.4500

How did you come to be a chef in New York? I started cooking at [Chicago’s] Blackbird when I was 15 in 1988. I was too young to cook with the big boys, so they put me in pastry with Elissa Narow, who is a James Beard Award-winning chef. I fell in love with [cooking]. I moved [to NYC] about six years ago. I got a job at WD-50.

What was it like at WD-50? The chef de cuisine had a dish that was a New England crab roll with a torchon of peekytoe crab. He took a Pepperidge Farm hot-dog bun and put it through a pasta roller and then rolled it around the crab and toasted it in clarified butter. I wanted to work with the guy who thought to put a hot-dog bun through a pasta roller.

What nontraditional flavors are you using at Kingsley? [With winter being] citrus season, I’m fixated on Buddha’s hand [a fragrant fruit with fingerlike sections].

Fluke Crudo

What dishes are you using Buddha’s hand in? We’re putting it on fluke crudo.

How do fruits and vegetables come into your day-to-day meal-planning at the restaurant? I’m at Union Square Market in the mornings. Even now in the winter we have hydroponic guys that we get a bunch of stuff from [therefore, using a lot of vegetables].

What are your go-to NYC restaurants? I like going to weird places, like Uncle Boons for Thai. Rai Rai Ken will always be my go-to ramen spot.

What do you most love about being a chef? Working with the different flavors. Buddha’s hand is a great example—why just use lemons when you can use something that gives a slightly different flavor profile?