Morimoto, the New York City interpretation of Executive Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s namesake Philadelphia restaurant that is co-owned with restaurateur Stephen Starr, was designed by world renowned architect Tadao Ando. The restaurant’s entrance in the Chelsea Market features the world’s largest Japanese Noren curtain set against a massive façade of austere steel. The interior features an extraordinary open kitchen surrounded by a 24-seat sushi bar. Glass partitions create a private atmosphere between tables and a wall made of 17,000 spring water bottles add a touch of New York drama to this tranquil atmosphere.
Masaharu Morimoto (森本正治) is a well-known Japanese chef, best-known as the third (and last) Iron Chef Japanese on the TV cooking show Iron Chef, and an Iron Chef on its spinoff, Iron Chef America.
Chelsea Market is situated within a two-block complex, filling one million square feet and 18 buildings between 9th and 11th Avenues. The factory, office and railroad complex was built between 1890 and the mid 1930s for the New York Biscuit Company, an almagamation of 8 large eastern bakeries formed in 1890. It started off as a Romanesque-style complex of six-story bakeries on the east side of 10th Avenue, designed by Romeyn & Stever. shortly after the 18989 merger with the American Biscuit Company and the United States Baking Company, forming the National Biscuit Company (NABISCO), a collection of 114 bakeries, the complex grew to cover most of the block back to Ninth Avenue.
A series of orange brick structures at the northwestern corner of 15th and 9th designed by Albert G. Zimmerman were added from 1905-1912. In 1912, Zimmerman added the 11-story full-block structure from 10th to 11th on landfill. Nabisco began acquiring the outlying property, like the old American Can Company building on 14th Street, which was connected by a pedestrian bridge, designed by James Torrance. In 1932, Louis Wirsching Jr. replaced some of the original bakeries with the present structure, accomodating the elevated freight railroad viaduct, today known as the High Line, and adding the Art Deco pedestrian bridge crossing 10th Avenue.
Nabisco abandoned the complex for New Jersey starting in the
mid-1940's, and sold the building to Louis J. Glickman in 1958, but
during that time the ovens here baked everything from Saltines to
Mallomars to Animal Crackers to Oreos, which were first produced in Chelsea in 1912.
In the 1990's, Irwin B. Cohen organized a syndicate to buy the building and in 1998, Vaneberg Associates renovated the complex. Brass spandrels were woven into the 9th Avenue brick facade, and a glass and steel canopy was added. The back lots of the individual buildings were connected to an 800-foot long central, ground-level concourse with entries at 9th and 10th Avenues. The original flooring was kept in tact, enhanced with light panels. Diamondplate panels, rebar handrails, stone sculpture, aluminum, glass block, and recycled industrial objects were used throughout. A central fountain contains discarded drill bits. Storefronts opened to the concourse with floor to ceiling glass. Anchor stores include the Manhattan Fruit Exchange, 202 by Nicole Farhi, Amy's Bread, and Buddakan. Other popular shops include Fat Witch Bakery, Ruthy's Baked Goods, Eleni's, The Lobster Place, Ronnybrook Dairy, and Chelsea Wine Vault. The Food Network films its shows Iron Chef America and Emeril Live in the Chelsea Market. The complex also contains office and studio space for other media companies including NY1, The Oxygen Network and Major League Baseball Productions.