We had the good fortune of connecting with Sydney Buck and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sydney, what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by local ingredients, sustainability and my small businesses. I take stride in knowing where my produce is coming from and the people who provide it to me. I love seasonality so I get super excited when I see something new at the farmers market when it is at its peak. The vendors at the farmers markets always point me in the right direction. I love it when they have 15 different varieties of produce. Right now there are loads of different peppers at the market and I have been utilizing so many different varieties in my specials at work. The changing of seasons really is a beautiful thing to see in terms of food. Spring is always around the corner when you start to see radishes, asparagus, spring onion, foraging ramps and morels. Then summer gears up and everything is exploding with strawberries, beautiful bibb lettuces, green beans, peaches and so on. I could just get lost in heirloom tomatoes and all the colors they are. There is nothing better than toast with mayo and a fresh heirloom tomato and flaky salt. Then towards the end of summer, my personal favorite is when I start to see delicata squash. There is nothing better than a salad with whipped ricotta, arugula and roasted delicata squash. It is the best kind of squash because you can eat the skin and it caramelizes.

Another thing that inspires me is going out to eat with friends. We constantly are trying a new restaurant that is doing something completely different and pushing the boundaries. It makes me want to go home and break it down.
Just talking with my friends, my bartenders in my neighborhood about what they love cooking inspires me to come up with new dishes. Usually if I am ever in a rut of what I want to cook after my farmers market hauls, I sit at my favorite dive bar, Aunt Ginny’s, bring my notebook, have a beer and draft up some recipes. I really have come up with some of the best recipes for cooking just sitting there.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My whole entire life I have been cooking. My mom caught me cooking eggs in their kitchen when I was 3. I had eggs in a big lobster pot on the stove with cheese, salt and pepper. I didn’t know how to turn the gas on and all I remember was my mom yelling at me and looking down into the pot. She said I also had the toaster on the floor, making toast and poured cups of orange juice on the floor as well. I think after that my parents knew I was super invested in cooking. I grew up in the kitchen watching everything everyone did. When I was older I loved cooking for my community and the people I loved. I grew up with a garden so seasonality and fresh produce was really important to me. I moved to New York to pursue a job in the beauty industry and it constantly knocked me down. I felt like I was trying to be someone else. Every Saturday I would go to the union square farmers market, talk to the vendors and I just felt like I was at home. People were always so curious about what I would bring into work to eat. When the pandemic hit, I was cooking even more since we were in a lock down. Cooking was always the place that would bring me joy even in the worst of times. I started cooking more for friends during the pandemic and we would have barbeques, brunches, anything to bring us together. My friends constantly were telling me to quit my job and pursue cooking but I always told them no, it was just a hobby. One day while I was talking to my therapist she made me realize that I was truly happiest when I was working with my hands. And with that I decided to quit my beauty job without a plan. I needed time to really figure out what I wanted to do. I started private cheffing and I didn’t realize how happy I could truly be. I never felt joy like this. I recently started out as an executive chef at a wine bar in Bushwick called Cherry on Top. I get to work with my local businesses and farmers markets to bring together an amazing every week. When I am there I never feel like it is work. The staff there has let me shine and really pushed me to be the best version of myself. And I really now know that I made the right decision at 29 to quit an industry that wasn’t bringing me joy to completely start over. And now I am thriving more than I ever have in my life.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
It is funny, everytime someone visits they call me the mayor of Ridgewood, where I live. I love my local businesses so much so I would love to give them shout outs.

Eat- Gordo’s Cantina, The Acre, I Like Food, The Commodore, Win Son, Falansai, Newtown, Cherry on Top (obviously that’s where I cook), Mei Lei Wah, Golden Unicorn are all in my regular rotation. I also am always on look out for new restaurants that are doing something unique..

Visit- I love going to the Jacob Riis beach in the summer. I also frequent the Union Square Farmers market as much as I can. I love taking the M to the J over the bridge and looking at the skyline then walking around Chinatown and ending up at a dive bar. I also love bringing people to Ridgewood Pork store. It is my favorite butcher in the area and they can get really unique ingredients.

I also love hosting barbecues at my house so usually when my friends are visiting we have a barbeque, get oysters, some good produce and meat. A 12 pack of modelo or twisted teas and play music all day.

Drink- I am a dive bar darling for sure. This list may be long.. Aunt Ginnys is my second home. Windjammer, Honore Club, Pearls Social Club, Anchored Inn, Ontario Bar, Rocka Rolla (only during the day) When I am in the mood for something different, I love drinking natural wine, especially at the wine bar at work at Cherry on Top. I also love going to Palmetto’s and getting a cocktail and talking to the bartenders. TIP your bartenders, get to know them and become part of the community. When you support your community, they support you back.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am so lucky to have an amazing community here in Ridgewood that constantly pushes me to the best version of myself. I want to thank all of my friends for letting me cook for them. It was something we always did together during the height of the pandemic. They all believed in me as a chef and were the ones that pushed me to pursue cooking full time. It was the best decision I have ever made. Without them I would have been miserable and lost.  I would like to thank my parents who allowed me to be in the kitchen and learn from them. I want to thank every bartender, line cook and every service industry worker that I have crossed paths in NY with that has inspired me and listened to me talk about food. I also want to thank my staff at Cherry on Top for believing in me enough to flourish and bring in new dishes that make me feel so proud to be their executive chef. 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/buckwildkitchen/?hl=en

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sydney-buck-987997a8/

Image Credits
Photo by Jenn Estridge

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.