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How 465 Square Feet Became a Michelin-Starred Restaurant

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Brooklyn’s Semilla gets creative under constraint

Necessity is the mother of invention at Semilla, the Michelin-starred tasting menu restaurant in Brooklyn’s South Williamsburg. Just 465 square feet in size, it houses 18 seats around a U-shaped bar. The restaurant and its "vegetable-forward" menu are the brainchildren of chef José Ramírez-Ruiz and pastry chef Pam Yung, who tested the concept together as a twice-weekly pop-up called Chez Jose before opening a permanent dining room.

Kitchen size and staffing constraints inspire Ramírez-Ruiz and Yung’s food out of necessity; with just three people in the kitchen, preparation and plating is kept simple and clean. Semilla is dedicated to minimizing food waste, which means the team is constantly finding ways to use overlooked parts of a product, or parts that would otherwise be discarded, sometimes hunting them out specifically. "We've gotten to the point," Ramírez-Ruiz says, "where producers will think, 'I don't have a lot of this, but I think Jose can use it,' or, 'I think Pam can use it.'" Yung adds, "When you have a close relationship with the people and the product itself, you really don’t want to throw it away."

For more about the Semilla philosophy, and for a peek into the restaurant space, watch the interview with chefs Ramírez-Ruiz and Yung above.

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