Matt Levine is a man of many superlatives that reflect his success across various industries: "marketing genius", one of "New York's leading entrepreneurs", "the unofficial mayor of the Lower East Side", and "A-list restaurateur", just to name a few. But whether he's exercising his entrepreneurial spirit in fashion, marketing or hospitality, Matt is known for his unwavering commitment to supporting local communities and businesses. His market-to-table restaurant, Chalk Point Kitchen, embodies this philosophy from inside out, from the way the menu is sourced to the way they actively engage with their community on social media. In this week's edition of 'At the Table', Matt talked to us about how going local, building a stronger community, and entrepreneurial spirit can all go hand-in-hand for finding success in any industry.
You’ve launched several successful ventures in a range of industries. What inspired you to open Chalk Point Kitchen as a restaurant that would focus on approachable “market to table” practices?
My goals have always been guided by whatever I'm feeling passionate about in the moment. As I've grown on a personal level, my professional pursuits and interests have also evolved – from fashion to nightlife, to food and beverage, and now into health & wellness in hospitality. But regardless of what industry I'm in, I've always had the entrepreneurial spirit to support local communities. When we created the lounge, The Eldridge, it was important for me to engage and understand the Lower East Side community around it, which inspired me to become an active member of local organizations and within the neighborhood. This commitment to community has always been a guiding principle to me, which eventually led to our "market to table" approach at Chalk Point Kitchen. It was important that I support locally from within the New York City backyard, like farmers at the Union Square Green Market, and mom & pop brick and mortars in Chinatown and Little Italy. Purchasing locally doesn't just build your local economy – it also builds a sense of community, and over time, I've learned through Chalk Point Kitchen that there are socially responsible benefits to sourcing locally as well, like improving the health and environmental awareness of others.
What inspires the menu at Chalk Point Kitchen?
Everything we do at indieFORK is a collaboration, so our chef and I work together to come up with healthy recipes that are creative and innovative, but still approachable. We fuse our menu with as much antioxidant-rich local produce as possible, along with superfoods and unique flavor profiles.
What's the dining atmosphere like at Chalk Point Kitchen?
Whether it's a snowy Monday, rainy Tuesday, or heatwave Wednesday, the atmosphere and experience at Chalk Point Kitchen is always consistent. It's become a go-to neighborhood spot to enjoy a healthy sit-down meal that comes with good energy and vibes.
Aside from its physical space, Chalkpoint Kitchen also has a distinct personality and aesthetic on Instagram. What's the role of social media in the dining experience at your restaurant?
In today’s world, it’s important for us to create and provide shareable content throughout every aspect of your dining experience, from the moment you walk in to the presentation of your check. There's such a variety of shareable social media platforms, so we encourage guests to post a photo of our décor on your InstaStory, or a video of your experience on Snapchat, and a pic of your meal on Wine n Dine.
What’s one way that you culivate your own lifestyle?
I started experimenting with all natural and organic superfoods and now incorporate them into my daily hydration routine. Every morning I make myself a different combination. Right now, I'm drinking a mix of chlorophyll, blue green algae, spirulina, wheatgrass and water. Tomorrow, I'll blend turmeric, hemp protein, maca root, bee pollen, manuka honey and ginger with water.
What’s been the most rewarding part about opening Chalk Point Kitchen?
Educating our guests that dining out can be healthy. I want to continue spreading that message by expanding our health and wellness footprint in the realm of hospitality, and eventually open up our own brand of hotels.
Kitchen Snapshot – Matt Levine
Go-to homemade meal for guests: I make a really mean acai bowl.
Culinary quirk: I used to drink an iced coffee every day (even if it was negative degrees outside!), but I’ve recently replaced my caffeine intake with all-natural energy boosters, like alkalizing greens, Vitamin B-12, oat straw, and rhodiola.
I can't live without: my Ninja blender.
I never use: the microwave.
Photography by Anne Z. Chen unless otherwise specified.