Perfectly set upstairs at Swedish-based photography museum Fotografiska New York, its name a nod to the patron saint of photography, Verōnika celebrates comforting traditional fare and show-stopping fine dining classics in equal stead, much like the iconic building it calls home. Executive chef Robert Aikens draws inspiration from northern France, Austria, and Eastern Europe, in an eco-conscious manner that is reflective of the optimism and joie de vivre of the era.
Chef Robert Aikens
A native of Norfolk, England, Robert Aikens began his career in London in the orbit of the Roux brothers, including a year at their three-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. He relocated to upstate New York in 1991 to work at The Point, a top-rated luxury resort in the Adirondack Mountains, later becoming the Executive Chef of sister Relais & Chateaux property Lake Placid Lodge.
In 1996, Robert was recruited by Citigroup to consult on an executive retreat property, leading to a position overseeing all corporate dining for the international bank. In 2002, Tom Aikens, Robert’s twin brother and fellow chef, asked Robert to return to London to help launch Tom’s Kitchen, a casual accompaniment to Tom’s Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant.
By 2007, Robert was back in New York City for a second stint with Citigroup, before leaving in 2010 to open STARR Restaurants’ The Dandelion in Philadelphia. Here, he developed a menu of inspired upscale British cuisine that was met with rave reviews. The following years would see Robert heading up a number of high-profile openings in New York City. He also worked as Executive Chef of The Rainbow Room and Bar SixtyFive, its members-only club; and Espita Mezcaleria in Washington, D.C.
After returning to NYC in January 2019, Robert assisted STARR on the relaunch of the iconic Pastis before becoming the Executive Chef of Verōnika, inside Fotografiska, the six-story photographic exhibition space at 281 Park Avenue South. Drawing inspiration from Northern France, Austria, and Eastern Europe, Aikens leads the ambitious morning-to-evening culinary approach, developing multiple menus for Verōnika, the Cafe at Fotografiska, and the special event space.