Posted on Posted on By Palmer Hasty
“Cooklyn” from Brooklyn to Open in Palm Beach
“You’re the first media outlet I’ve talked to about it. (Theocaroplous laughed) So there’s your exclusive scoop. We’re building a food Market next to the restaurant, where we will definitely sell many Brooklyn-based items. But even more than that, the Market ambiance will have what I believe is a Brooklyn flair.” Interview with Owner/Executive Chef Anthony Theocaropolous
By Palmer Hasty
Brooklyn’s upscale restaurant Cooklyn, located at 659 Vanderbilt Street in Prospect Heights, is currently building its second restaurant in the prestigious 150 Worth Avenue Plaza in Palm Beach, Florida.
Cooklyn’s Executive Chef and owner Anthony Theocaropolous could not have chosen a better location for his second upscale restaurant. Locations on Worth Avenue Plaza are some of the highest valued real estate in Florida. The restaurant will be just a short stroll to the intersection of historic Worth Avenue and South Ocean Boulevard, where the street opens out into a beautiful vista of beach along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean.
Theocaropolous (who likes to be called just “Theo”) has worked with some of America’s most famous chefs. His culinary credentials are impressive.
He was part of the team that opened the Italian restaurant at the famous 5-star Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. After two years at the Breakers he wanted to learn more about Italian cooking, and returned to New York where he was part of the team that opened the Eataly restaurant. He learned how to make handmade pasta from well known chef Mario Bartaly.
In 2010 Theocaropolous was part of the team that opened the Ai Fiori restaurant with Chef Michael White in Manhattan. While Theocarpolous was there the restaurant received a Three Star review from the New York Times and two Michelin Stars.
BE: In a recent interview with the Brooklyn Eagle, Theocaropolous talked about his new culinary venture in Florida and how he came up with the name “Cooklyn”.
AT: “I was working at Mario Bartali’s Food Court. Me and my partners were barnstorming one day, you know, just blurting out names off the top of our heads. We came up with nonsense like “cork and fork”, and “the vineyard”, things like that. I suddenly said ‘cooklyn’, and we all liked it. But we also thought it sounded obvious and must already be taken. We did a thorough Google search and it wasn’t taken. So it was sort of a collaborative effort. I’m very pleased with it and I think a name like that is so brandable. I believe it gives us an edge.”
How have people reacted to the name?
“It appears to be a love-hate thing. People seem to love it, or hate it, or just don’t get it. The majority of people love it, but for some reason there’s no in between.”
BE: When did you decide to become a chef?
AT: “When I was 18. I left New York intending to check out three culinary schools; the first one being the Lincoln Culinary School in Palm Beach. So I drove down with my mom and two of my brothers to take a look at it. I ended up having such a great time and meeting so many great people that I stayed and never bothered to look at any of the other schools. I got a place to live, enrolled in school, moved all my stuff down there, and that was that.”
BE: Cooklyn is known for using local food sources from Brooklyn like Stinky Brooklyn (cheese), Brooklyn Bread Company, Toby’s Estate (coffee), the Red Hook Winery and beer from Brooklyn breweries . Will you continue using Brooklyn-based products in the Florida restaurant?
“We are of course trying to bring as much Brooklyn to Florida as we can. In Palm Beach we’ll continue to serve wine from Brooklyn Winery and some Brooklyn-based beer. As far as the food and produce in concerned, a great deal of inventory will be from local Florida sources. The inventory we will have access to in Florida is unbelievable, it’s a chef’s dream.”
BE: You mentioned a Market in addition to the new restaurant; I didn’t read about that anywhere in the press. What is that about?
AT: “You’re the first media outlet I’ve talked to about it. (Theocaroplous laughed) So there’s your exclusive scoop. We’re building a food Market next to, well, virtually connected to the restaurant, where we will definitely sell many Brooklyn-based items. But even more than that, the Market ambiance will have what I believe is a Brooklyn flair.
BE: So when does the new Cooklyn open in Palm Beach?
AT: “We’re definitely doing a soft opening in October and hope to open by November. We’re racing against time because the laws are very strict down there, and we can’t do any construction work after November first. A slew of people are working day and night as we speak.”
BE: What about the Cooklyn menu? Will it change?
AT: “Yes, the menu will be different from the restaurant here because of the different types of local resources. The plan though is to be primarily Mediterranean cuisine with Asian highlights. I will of course throw in a little Greek influence, I mean, what would you expect from a guy with a name like Theocarapolous; right?”
Photo of Theocarapolous: Michael Tulipan