At 16, I imagine most of us were normal high school students struggling to balance homework, a social life and maybe a couple of clubs, however, that is not the case for Flynn McGarry. A little over a month ago, the 16-year-old chef opened up his first restaurant in New York.
According to his website, Flynn first wanted to cook at the age of 10. He began practicing his knife skills after school, props to his parents for allowing this, and soon after started creating dishes for a few of his mother’s friends.
At 11, Flynn’s dishes became more complicated, sous-vide cooking was adopted, a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times (sometimes up to 96 hours), and tweezers were now a must for plating. I think it’s fair to say that by 11, Flynn surpassed most of our culinary skills (I had to look up sous-vide, too).
By 12, the number of courses and guests had doubled at what was now called EUREKA, a dinner club operating out of his mother’s home in Studio City (Los Angeles).
At 13, Flynn began apprenticing at Ray’s and Stark Bar at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Then, he later went on to stage at Eleven Madison Park under Chef Daniel Humm, as well as at Alinea, Next and Modernist Cuisine in Seattle. At the same time, Flynn and his small EUREKA staff, made up of family and professionals, were serving 20 guests a tasting menu of 14 courses out of his kitchen and bedroom.
At fourteen, Flynn’s supper club EUREKA relocated to pop up monthly at BierBeisl in Beverly Hills and continued to pop up EUREKA in L.A, S.F and N.Y. In 2014, Flynn was the cover story of the Food and Drink Issue of The New York Times Magazine, became the youngest honoree on Zagat’s 30 under 30 Los Angeles list, and was named one of the top 25 most influential teens from Time Magazine.
Now at 16, he’s opening his restaurant, a pop-up dinner series where a reservation will cost you $160 a head — plus an additional $80 for wine pairings, although how he would know which wine to pick is anybody’s guess.
His age, however, has invited critics harsh remarks. According to GrubStreet.com, his most recent critic is David Santos, formerly of Louro, who ranted on Instagram, “The fact the media even calls him a chef offends me to no end. Chef is something you earn through years of being beaten and shit on and taught by some of the greats … It’s not about playing dress up and plating a couple dishes.” … and that’s only part of the rant. He also has critics that say his success stems from his parents being well off financially, as his mother is a filmmaker, his grandmother a former NBC executive, although Flynn vehemently denies that claim and said, “… the whole concept that I can do this because my parents have money. I do not come from a very rich family. My parents are artists, and they’re just stupidly supportive … [Supposedly] if you want to be a teenage chef, your parents have to be really rich. Mine are not. They’re both working people.”
Reservations are currently open through October 25, if you want to shell out the $160 and taste Flynn’s food yourself. Despite what his critics have to say, something tells me this won’t be the last we hear of Flynn McGarry. For being only 16, he seems to have a good head on his shoulders. “I’ve become disturbingly used to [the negativity]. It does feel bad when a pretty decent amount of my industry just doesn’t respect me because of my age, and this misconstrued idea that I’m really wealthy, which is just not true. People say, ‘He needs to have a childhood.’ Like, okay, why do I have to have your version of a childhood?”