If you haven’t eaten dinner at 10 Downing in the past few months, you might want to revisit. Jonnatan Leiva earned three stars cooking at Jack Falstaff in San Francisco, which shuttered last May. But San Francisco’s loss is New York’s gain because Leiva moved East to head up the kitchen at 10 Downing. While this restaurant has seen more than its fair share of chefs, including Jason Neroni, this may be its best hire yet. Jonnatan describes his cooking as “Californian with global inspirations” with dishes like striped bass ceviche, Argentine-style grilled short rib with romanesco & chimichurri sauce, and a coconut curry pot pie.
very happily engaged.What’s your go-to farmers market in the city?
I like to go the Union Square GreenMarket, but Brooklyn has some great ones as well.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I would best describe it as modern, simple, and Californian with global inspirations. And soulful!
You had such a strong career going in San Francisco, so what brought you to New York?
San Francisco is my hometown where I had a lot of support and I am so grateful for that. But the chance and opportunity is what brought me out to New York. I couldn’t say no.
How is the New York culinary scene different from San Francisco’s?
The culinary scene in New York is one word – FIERCE! You gotta be on the ball everyday. There are many great
kitchens in San Francisco and it’s certainly intense as well, but the energy and vibe in New York is non-stop. Folks are very vocal and one chance is all they give you.
How have you changed the menu at 10 Downing to fit your style, while still catering to regulars?
As of recently it has been more of my vision and style. But I also change and evolve with my surroundings and what the clientele is looking for. That’s not to say that I can’t still feed my own creative juices and am able to challenge my team.
What’s your ideal meal at 10 Downing?
My ideal meal is simply having our “Tasting Menu”. The diner can pick and literally build his own menu. There are so many dishes that are “hits” that it’s really based on what my emotions are on a given day. There really is something for everyone, from the local couple on date night to a group of young professionals out on the town.
You’ve worked with a lot of influential chefs, everyone from Rocco DiSpirito to Chris Cosentino. Who would you consider your mentor?
I have definitely worked with many great cooks and chefs, but I would have to say that my grandmother was my toughest and smartest mentor of all. She was an amazing cook.
What neighborhood do you live in and what are your favorite places to eat there?
I live very close to the restaurant in the Village. I like to eat, drink and grab something fun at Joseph Leonard or Rockmeisha for ramen. But believe it or not my fiancé and I cook at least five days out of the week.
Address: 10 Downing St., at Sixth Ave.