Carrie Levin, the Chef and Owner of Good Enough to Eat, was born in New York City, but moved with her parents and her little brother to Belgium at the age of five. She grew up in Brussels, learning French (and a smattering of Flemish) spending a lot of time in the two small restaurants her family owned there.
Her grandparents, who still lived in the States, would often visit during Carrie’s school vacations, taking the family on eating tours of different European countries. Their generosity meant Carrie spent many of her holidays eating, playing—and sometimes cooking—in the kitchens of some of the biggest hotels in Europe.
After completing college in Aix-en-Provence, France, Carrie attended Pru Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London. Returning to New York in October 1979, she worked briefly at the Russian Tea Room, where she met her husband-to-be, William Perley. Her fluency in French soon helped her land an apprenticeship under Seppi Renngli, then Head Chef at the Four Seasons. Carrie acknowledges Seppi as her biggest influence and inspiration, dedicating her cookbook, Bountiful Home Cooking (with Ann Nickinson, Simon & Schuster, 1987) to him.
In 1981, with an opportunity to open her own restaurant—and create her own menus—Carrie recognized her desire to create and serve “good, old-fashioned American food.” She partnered with Ann Nickinson, a talented cook operating a small take-out and catering business on Amsterdam Avenue, and together they opened the first Good Enough to Eat restaurant. The eatery became a huge success, noted first for its all-day, bountiful breakfasts featuring omelets, pancakes, waffles, and buttermilk biscuits. Further renown came soon with homemade soups, huge sandwiches, and classic Turkey and Meatloaf dinners, establishing Carrie—with her sophisticated European culinary training and palette —as one of the first Chef’s in NYC to create and celebrate “traditional” American cuisine.
In 1989, Good Enough to Eat moved two blocks north on Amsterdam Avenue, doubling its size from 10 to 20 tables. Two years later, Carrie became sole owner and chef when Ann left the partnership to pursue other ventures.
Today, visitors from all over the world—English, German, French, Japanese—come to Good Enough to Eat to enjoy classic American food. They sit side by side with Upper West Side “regulars,” enjoying wholesome, mouth-watering (and ample) plates such as Macaroni and Cheese, Lemon Parmesan Chicken, Pecan Trout, Caesar Salad, Sweet Potato Fries, the now legendary Meatloaf and Turkey Dinners, and Peach Pie with homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. The appetite for wholesome, authentic, traditional American food only seems to be growing – both here and in cultures across the globe. Carrie Levin has made it her mission to satisfy that hunger at Good Enough to Eat.