Now 60 years old, Vongerichten’s illustrious career can be retraced as both a business lesson and a study in culinary evolution.

On a high shelf spanning the entire length of a wall in the meeting room at Jean-Georges Management, which overlooks the bustling, teeming Prince Street in New York’s SoHo neighbourhood, are toasters. Two dozen, perhaps, dating from the 1920s to the 1950s. The chef looks at them and says, “There is nothing better than toast in the morning. A little butter, some marmalade—perfect.”