Cool Friends: Carolina Santos-Neves 

January 6, 2023

Meet Carolina, the executive chef of West Village favorite, American Bar. We caught up with Carolina to hear how some inspring friends and taking a chance led her to a career in the culinary world.

How did you start your career as a chef?
Well, I could say it was out of my first apt in Manhattan circa 2003 at a time when I used to invite friends, old and new (and by new I mean someone I perhaps met earlier that day), over to some kind of feast or combination of dishes that were hopefully edible. Or, for the legit answer, I'd have to say when I departed from my associate editor role to join the opening team at Comodo, which at the time was on Macdougal street. I always dreamt of opening up a restaurant, but didn't know the first thing about it, and didn't know that I'd want to do it in NYC. Fortunately, through six degrees of some kind, I got reconnected with Chef Felipe Donnelly and Tamy Rofe. Two hyper-creative and entrepreneurial individuals who had spent a year doing pop-ups out of their apartments as a way to meet new people and for him to expand his culinary talents and for her to do what she loved very much, which was write. I fell in love with Felipe and Tamy and insisted we become friends. Soon thereafter they invited me to join them for a pop-up dinner at City Grit, a space based out of Nolita, that hosted visiting chefs. It truly took one dinner for us to realize we had to come together to do something great or to be part of something great. And there it was.

What's your favorite part about the New York creative community?
That it can be found anywhere. Someone might be playing the Violin in the subway or perhaps a server might tell you about a wine/dance pop-up he does monthly. There's always music to see, art to admire, and food to be experienced in the obvious places and also the most unassuming places. All one really needs is to open their eyes and believe in possibilities.

What's inspiring you right now?
A friend can send me an upbeat song which I'd probably play on repeat, or, honestly, my friends are so inspiring!  I just came across Sadguru on instagram and find his words inspiring as well as the book the four agreements. In terms of food, I'm generally inspired by beauty in simplicity and by subtle flavors. You'll always find me spending my money on an omakase experience or a spot with small plates.

Follow along
Instagram: @americanbarnyc

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