Meet Chef Hugo Uys.
A self-proclaimed culinary astronaut, Hugo Uys has been a fixture in the NYC restaurant scene for over 20 years. Of note, Hugo has owned a restaurant and bar in the West Village, opened a Food Hall in Grand Central Terminal, and opened a Michelin-starred restaurant to boot.
South African born, he’s been frequently asked to cook at state events at the U.N. in NYC on behalf of the South African Government, and also continues to cook for high-profile clients at private events.
Hugo’s career has been fed by his spirited willingness to try, discover and leave his comfort zone, across the food and style industries. He believes that food fuels what transpires around it, and it most certainly fuels his successes.
After a brief stint at University, Hugo first applied his growing aptitude for style and design by fashioning his own line of made-to-measure gowns—having the opportunity to sponsor and dress both Miss World and Miss Universe in South Africa.
He took this knowledge of fashion to the U.S., but carved out a new market for it: high-end pet accessories. Being a first-mover in the industry in the mid-90s, Hugo distributed his line internationally, selling at Federated, Harrods and Saks Fifth Avenue. He also collaborated with designers such as Donna Karan, and teamed up with Nadja Swarovski to co-create the world’s most expensive dog coat.
It was while on this path that Hugo realized his true sense of enjoyment came from the interactions he had with his clients: be it entertaining them in restaurants, or around the dinner table at home—creating convivial environments that fostered connection—and where food was always involved.
When the opportunity arose for Hugo to purchase a then 20 year old West Village establishment, he took it. Hugo transformed Paris Commune restaurant from its original 35 seat setting on Bleecker Street, to a 120-seat restaurant with $3.5 million in sales annually, delivering an industry leading 15% return on investment. Hugo continued to expand upon his ideas and his success, opening and operating a New American Bar in the West Village named Shag.
More recently, Hugo has been expanding into consulting for the hospitality industry—sharing his knowledge of the restaurant business learned and earned through his own experiences in the field. His latest ventures include: raising capital and performing financial due diligence on a number of restaurant concepts, developing and launching a proprietary food product, and piloting a new bakery concept while designing its broader roll-out.
Of significant note, Hugo created and nurtured the venture which brought world-renowned restaurateur Claus Meyer of Noma, rated the #1 restaurant in the globe for 3 consecutive years, to North America. This $20MM project included developing the Great Northern Food Hall and Agern, a Michelin-starred restaurant, both in Grand Central Terminal.
Hugo then went on to open and develop New-Nordic bakeries around NYC, branded as Bröd Kitchen. He also worked with the Diamond Commissary in the development of their brand and $30MM business model.
Hugo is currently working on the food and beverage development on a new hotel concept in NYC’s Financial District.
And of course, he continues to cook.