Elise Kornack and Anna Hieronimus, both 26, are the couple behind Take Root, a 14-seat, tasting menu-only restaurant in Carroll Gardens that opened at the beginning of the year. Elise is the chef, a "Chopped" winner and former line cook at the Spotted Pig and Aquavit. Anna is a yoga instructor and acts as the host, server and busser. They talked to us via speakerphone about changes afoot, including their upcoming nuptials.
Your voices sound so alike I can't tell you apart. Is it okay to have you speak in one voice for this?
My mom can't decipher our voices either. You can make up who's talking, we won't be offended.
Can you clear up if Take Root serves as a yoga studio during the day? Do you have to move the tables and chairs in and out?
The restaurant and the yoga studio never shared the same space. The yoga studio was in the back room, but it's been gone for a few weeks now. People were confused so we decided to stop doing it. We're renovating the space so it will be mostly for private parties and a lounge. Especially in the winter it will be nice for people to wait indoors until their table is ready.
When is this happening?
After the holidays.
Anna, are you still going to teach yoga?
Eventually I might teach privately. I kind of have my hands full with the wedding right now.
How soon are you getting married?
In two weeks at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. We're really excited. It'll be relatively small, just family and a few friends.
What will you be wearing?
Elise settled on two pieces from Rag & Bone that are really cool. I got a wedding outfit from Stone Fox Bride in SoHo. It's white, a little unconventional. I bought gold platform Maiyet shoes that I came across at Barneys Warehouse Sale. They were the only pair left and in my size so it was meant to be.
Last month you got quite a love letter from Ligaya Mishan in the Times.
It was very exciting. It definitely had a huge impact. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people who come in are blown away and really sweet, but since that review we've gotten more 'foodies,' a term I loathe.
Everybody I know who works in the food industry or writes about food does not want to be called a 'foodie.' Is there a better word? I'm getting tired of 'chowhound,' too.
The actual word 'foodie' is not the problem. It has a negative connotation because of Yelp and all the self-proclaimed critics who want to weigh in and find something wrong. Before the New York Times article the people who came in had heard about us through word of mouth or had passed by and were curious. They were the sort who are comfortable with themselves and dining in a place that's not a conventional restaurant. Now we have some people coming in who want you to prove to them that this is a worthy thing to do. For some New Yorkers it's a little too intimate. It's not for everybody.
Elise, what did you learn from your time working at Aquavit?
What did you pick up at the Spotted Pig?
Speed. When you're doing three hundred covers a night you don't have any time to breathe. From five p.m. to two a.m., if you're a line cook, you literally don't stand still for a second. Part of the decision to run our business the way we did was because we literally didn't see each other until two a.m., after I got off work. At Aquavit I was working sixteen-hour days. My primary goal was to be a chef and have a life.
You're only open Thursday through Sunday, so does that mean you have a life now?
We got rid of Sunday brunch so we're only serving Thursday to Saturday. It's only me in the kitchen and it takes an entire week to prep, shop and do the ordering. I'm working every day except for Sunday when I hang out with Anna and our two dogs.
What did you do with the money you won from "Chopped"?
The $10,000 paid for the appliances for Take Root and the kitchen. I was a little sad to watch the ten grand come in and go so fast. I did get Anna a pair of Louboutin sandals. The heels were out of my price range.
Take Root, 187 Sackett St., (347) 227-7116, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, take-root.com