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BEST CHEFS 

Ted Habiger and Andrew Sloan

Critics' Choice

"It takes a solid 10 years of being a cook — not a chef — to develop a personal style," says Ted Habiger, who opened the original midtown Room 39 with another local chef, Andrew Sloan, in 2004. Habiger and Sloan first worked together at the 75th Street Brewery in 1994, before Habiger moved to New York City to hone his culinary skills (having already worked as executive chef at the iconic Café Allegro). Habiger says he and Sloan have very different culinary styles, but the Room 39 menus served at both locations reflect their unique collaboration, which focuses on delicious, imaginative dishes prepared with regionally produced products (Green Dirt Farm cheeses, Thane Palmberg swiss chard, nettles, potatoes). The vegetarian dishes, like this summer's stuffed squash filled with a cheesy bread pudding, are as extraordinary as the meaty innovations, including a Honey Del Farm duck breast on a potato-and-leek cake drizzled with a supple fresh-blackberry gastrique. Habiger tells it true: "The ideas still flow."

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