Ilene Rosen
Chef Ilene Rosen

Ilene Rosen

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
July 2, 2005

When Ilene Rosen sets her mind to a task she masters it beautifully, and her success with City Bakery’s salad bar is the quintessential example. Prior to attending culinary school and becoming a chef, Ilene received two design degrees from Parsons. But it was in cooking that she found her true passion. Cooking is one of many different creative fields, but it is much more forgiving than a more rigid discipline such as architecture. There is more room to play, to be spontaneous and fluid. This is not to say that cooking is an easy art form, although Ilene makes it seem simple. The creations she conjures up at City Bakery are uncomplicated yet innovative; a practical, tasteful fusion, not an ostentatious and pretentious collage. Graceful is the best way to describe her salad bar. Her delicious combinations seem so effortless that you almost take it for granted, until you try other “salad bars” in the city.

After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, Ilene, a loyal patron of City Bakery, approached chef/owner Maury Rubin. She had never thought of working anywhere else, and lucky for us it worked out. The collaboration between Maury and Ilene is remarkable. I have been coming to City Bakery since 1994, and it truly keeps getting better. In addition to the food, there is also a clear dedication to service, presentation, packaging and quality control. They really understand the concept that presentation and design are not separate from the food but part of it.

City Bakery is not a restaurant but a retail environment. Unlike a restaurant, they get more customers coming in and out on a daily basis. There is a loyal fan base of regular customers, like myself, who appreciate what they represent and provide: yummy food, great atmosphere and a fun lifestyle. The savories and the sweets alike are modern, delicious interpretations that work. Everything is in sync at City Bakery.

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