Flynn McGarry Is the Freshest Face in Food

Flynn McGarry Is the Freshest Face in Food

The teenage wonder trades his apron for a men's fashion moment.

The teenage wonder trades his apron for a men's fashion moment.

Photography: Britt Lloyd

Styling: Maleeka Moss

Text: Alexandra Ilyashov

This interview appears in the pages of VMAN40: The New Vanguard Issue, on newsstands now. Order your copy today at!

Chef Flynn McGarry, 19, didn’t grow up in a culinary family. In fact, he started cooking out of the boredom he felt with his household’s very frequent rotation of roast chicken and pasta with tomato sauce. “I think I was kind of sick of eating the same thing over and over again,” he says. So for his 10th birthday, he requested The French Laundry Cookbook. “I picked the most expensive book on the top shelf,” says the Los Angeles native, who until then had been studying Food Network and YouTube tutorials. “And it blew my mind.”

Just two years later, McGarry was interning at Ray’s, a restaurant in L.A. Then, when chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara of New York’s Eleven Madison Park came to town for a book signing, McGarry, naturally ambitious, showed up with photos of dishes he’d cooked from the book, which scored him a weeklong internship at Eleven Madison. McGarry became something of a celebrity, getting profiled in The New Yorker and hosting popular dinner parties, dubbed Eureka, at home and in local restaurants. After completing high school online at 15, he headed to Scandinavia (his first international trip) to work in a series of kitchens. A year later, he moved back to New York, and in February opened his $155-per-head restaurant Gem (his mom’s name spelled backwards) on the Lower East Side.

Helming his own place has been a major shift. “For so long, it’s just been me. I cooked everything with one person helping, and now it’s a staff of 14,” McGarry says. His precociousness has the drawback of lofty expectations. Just a few months into opening Gem, “People come in with expectations of a six-year-old restaurant, because they’ve been reading about me for that long,” he says. “It’s something I was very aware of, and I put onto myself. When you get recognized very young, you get rid of the time to experiment. [But] I’d rather have people come to me with big, crazy expectations than no one showing up!”



Troye Sivan and Charli XCX's "1999" is a Bona Fide Hit