Ralf Kuettel, Chef and Owner of Trestle on Tenth is a self-made man. He worked his way from a small farm in his native Switzerland to the dining realm of New York City to achieve one goal: his own restaurant, where he could carry out his vision of serving great food, without pretension, to an appreciative audience.Born and raised in Turbenthal, at the foothills of the Alps, Ralf’s appreciation for the earth and its bounty came at a very early age. As the son of a farmer and game warden, he grew up roaming the woods with his father and tending to the animals and produce on the farm. It didn’t take him long to realize that he wanted to be a chef, and by the time he was a teenager he was enrolled in a cooking apprenticeship at Restaurant Seehus Stäfa in Stäfa on the shores of Lake Zürich in Switzerland. For 3 intense years he studied classical French and Swiss cuisine. Throughout that time, he dreamed of traveling and working with great chefs in other parts of the world, and after 4 more years of working his way up in restaurants throughout Switzerland, he decided to come to the United States.In 1989 he landed his first high-profile job, as a Tournant at Union Square Café under Chef Michael Romano. For the year he spent at USC, Ralf flourished working with Romano, who confirmed his belief in using only the freshest seasonal ingredients and preparing them simply and expertly to retain and enhance the natural character of the food.. Always a lover of the outdoors, Ralf ventured next to the west, first taking a Sous- chef position at the 3-star Palm Court restaurant in the Westin Hotel Seattle and then the post of assistant chef at Adams Street Bar and Grill in Breckenridge CO.Coming back to New York was inevitable for the kind of career Ralf was looking for, and in the early 90’s a great place for a young chef to cut his teeth on American cuisine was the restaurant Zoë. Here Ralf was Executive Sous Chef under Steven Levine, and learned the restaurant business from two consummate professionals, Stephen and Thalia Loffredo. He also began an in-depth study of American wines. After 4 years at Zoë, he took the plunge with the Loffredos of opening the restaurant Cena under famed Montreal chef Normand Laprise. As happens in the industry, the restaurant was short-lived; however before its demise, Cena earned 3 stars from The New York Times and accolades from many other critics.When Cena closed Ralf decided to use his wine knowledge to take a break from the kitchen. He took a sales position with Chelsea Wine Vault and within a short time was the wine buyer and store manager. He introduced “less glamorous” wines to the already vast inventory and honed his wine expertise, but more importantly began to look for a restaurant to call his own. He was immediately attracted to the history and rustic charm of the space at 242 10th Avenue. He was also aware of the area’s booming growth and the anticipated Highline Park across the street, and decided this was the place for him.Since its opening in 2006, Trestle on Tenth has become a neighborhood favorite and citywide destination.Visited often by the artists, gallerists, art enthusiasts and locals in the Chelsea community, the restaurant is a true gathering place. Ralf has continued to foster this ambiance through his menu, a celebration of the tradition and innovation of Swiss cuisine with a respect for ingredients (most of which are locally grown), and a New York Times-acclaimed wine list.His success at Trestle on Tenth and within the culinary world were praised in 2012 with an invitation to cook at the prestigious Cochon 555 national event series. He was one of five chefs challenged to prepare a heritage pig in five different ways for panel of judges - as well as a slew of eager ‘swinophiles’ and culinary mavens. There, standing alongside his fierce mascot for the competition, a pig on a rocket with a furrowed look of determination, Ralf’s next culinary venture was born in the summer of 2012: Rocket Pig.
Rocket Pig pays homage to Ralf’s prized ‘happy pigs’ and the notable local purveyors who raise them - a process that gives a whole new meaning to ‘labor of love.’ From a respected ingredient comes an acclaimed work of culinary art: the signature Rocket Pig Sandwich of pork shoulder (executed in a four-step process with a proprietary blend of Old World spices), fresh ciabatta roll, housemade red onion jam, secret Swiss sauce, crisp chilled sprouts and a housemade Red Bell pepper hot sauce. Nestled behind Trestle on Tenth’s charming terrace, Rocket Pig captures both the energy and specialty-focus of New York City as well as the cozy neighborhood vibe of the Chelsea community; the perfect combination for this culinary destination. Among media acclaim from Food and Wine to New York Magazine, Rocket Pig was nominated by Time Out New York for the title of “Best Sandwich 2013.” Onward and upward!
Nikki Ledbetter, General Manager, was born and raised in Marietta Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. After completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Maryland Institute College of Art in photography, she made her way to New York City in 2002. While working in the restaurant industry to support her career of freelance photography, she quickly began to fall in love with the passion and drive of the people around her. From her first job as an expeditor at a Thai restaurant to joining the service team at the original Craftbar, she began to translate the drive of the people around her into her own desire to learn all she could about food and wine. In 2006 she was hired as the Assistant Beverage Director at Craft Restaurant a role that grew into her taking over as Beverage Director in 2009. In that time she completed the Certified Sommelier Exam from the Court of Master Sommeliers. By 2010 Nikki was ready to take on another aspect of the wine world and spent the next three years working as a Sale Representative. Ultimately, that original drive and passion for food, wine and hospitality brought her back to the restaurant industry and Trestle on Tenth was the perfect place to continue to nurture her enthusiasm.
Danielle Kapner, Pastry Chef, grew up in Central New Jersey with a love for baking. From cookies and brownies to muffins and pies - over time she evolved her sense for sweets into a career. To further develop her craft (and her sweet tooth) she attended the Pastry Arts and Culinary Management programs at New York City's Institute of Culinary Education. During this time she completed an externship at the acclaimed Gotham Bar & Grill - growing from pastry cook to pastry sous chef. By 2008 Danielle was ready to take on another perspective on the food business and so she accepted a position of General Manager at a Bakery/Cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey. While she found the FOH/managerial roles of the industry to be interesting, the experience proved that her heart belonged in the kitchen. She joined Chef Ralf Kuettel and the team at Trestle on Tenth in August of 2010 and has since helped to build a notable dessert menu. Her favorite dessert (which also happens to be her favorite birthday treat) is the restaurant's top-selling Coconut Cake.
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