Flynn McGarry is the definition of a prodigy. At age 10, Flynn taught himself how to cook and by age 12, he was selling out twelve-course meals for $160 a person at swanky restaurants in Los Angeles. At 16, Flynn moved to New York City to continue cooking and hasn’t slowed down yet. Now 20, Flynn runs his own restaurant in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Gem (his mother’s name backwards), serving a two-hour tasting menu four days a week to eight lucky guests who love every bite. We met up with him at Gem after his morning visit to the farmers market to discuss food, fashion, and how he wears his Weejuns.


What’s it like to be a head chef and have your creativity and self-expression on display every day?

Self-expression is one of the most important things to me. It’s the foundation of creativity and is the driving factor behind my career. Running Gem can be a tricky balance between being creative and actually executing everything. My creative process mostly happens on the days the restaurant is closed, so that when we are open, I can focus on executing that creative vision. I also have found other ways to channel my creativity on a daily basis, through the design of the space and even the floral arrangements.

Where do you get that inspiration for your dishes?

The inspiration for the dishes comes from anywhere. I started to keep a running list of the initial sparks of inspiration for new dishes. They can range from a smell to a specific ingredient, or just come out of nowhere.

In addition to being a very well-respected chef, you also have amazing style. Do you feel your personal style is reflected in the dishes you create? Do those two things come from the same place, mentally?

I like to think of everything I do very holistically. I have an appreciation for style in design and food, but also in clothes. I feel like there would be a disconnect between how aesthetically driven everything else is in my life if I didn’t also pay attention to what I’m wearing every day.

As your creativity in cooking has evolved, has your style as well?

It’s funny that they’ve both gone in the same direction. As I got more confident in my cooking, I also got more confident in my style. Both became a little bit more stripped down and simple. I pretty much wear a uniform every day; I found what makes me comfortable and keep with it.

For example, I buy all of my white T-shirts online in packs of twenty-four. Throughout a day, I might get beets splattered on my shirt or get covered in sawdust, so I just buy tons of them and don’t feel bad when I destroy them.

Where do Weejuns fit in with your “uniform?”

They’re a great way to add some style to the otherwise simple outfit that I usually wear, and they’re comfortable enough for me to wear standing in a kitchen.

Flynn's Questionnaire

Photography: Aaron Bengochea

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