I’ve gone on the record many, many times as basically not being able to watch food TV, not because it’s bad (much of it is, but that’s beside the point) but because I want to turn my brain off when the TV’s on, and if it’s about food I have to pay too much attention. I hate that.
Unless it’s Jacques Pépin. I’ll watch Jacques Pépin.
I particularly hate cooking competition shows, because to me food is art, not sport.
But I might actually tune in to the next season of “The Next Iron Chef,” because on it are a lot of chefs that I like.
Here’s the list:
Nate Appleman (celebrity chef of the moment, just left San Francisco for New York)
Dominique Crenn (Luce, in San Francisco)
Brad Farmerie (Public, Double Crown etc, NYC)
Amanda Freitag (The Harrison, NYC)
Jose Garces (Philadelphia’s darling these days)
Eric Greenspan (The Foundry on Melrose, LA)
Jehangir Mehta (Graffiti, New York)
Seamus Mullen (Boqueria, New York)
Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita et al, Seattle area)
Roberto Treviño (Budatai, in San Juan)
I don't really know Nate. I met him at the Beard Awards when he was named Rising Star Chef:
I don't think that counts.
Dominique is a charming French woman who ran an all women's kitchen in Jakara, which is, like, crazy. Here’s a link to an interview I had with her.
Brad is just about the nicest person you’d want to meet, and one of the few chefs I know who manages to keep chicken off of his menu (he might be serving it these days — I don’t know — but for many years he didn’t)
I just met Jose very briefly a few years ago, when he was chef at a Stephen Starr place called El Vez. He seemed cool and innovative.
Jehangir is a brilliant pastry chef and good conversationalist, and Graffiti’s an interesting restaurant, in a good way.
Seamus can spin a yarn like no one’s business, and tells good stories about his world travels (here’s a previous blog entry with him in it, in case you’re curious). And I respect anyone who buys whole pigs.
Holly Smith does all sorts of interesting things at Cafe Juanita. I haven't interviewed her in awhile, but I remember having a good conversation with her about squab back in 2001.
This link to that story might work, but it was so long ago that it might not, and so, an excerpt:
“I like throwing things like truffle oil and foie gras on squab,” says Holly Smith, chef-owner of Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Wash.
She menued it once on a sweetbread ragoût with fava beans and morels bound in marsala, butter, truffle oil, thyme and sea salt.
“My friends would come and order it, but other people would say, ‘I didn’t know you were supposed to have all that stuff on a plate,’” she says.
Her squab appetizers sell better, she says, such as the half squab she served with potato gnocchi rolled around an almond-coated date and accompanied by foie gras and a syrup of vin santo.
“I think it likes a little sweetness and it also loves a little richness thrown on,” she says.
I haven’t met Amanda, Eric or Roberto, but I wish them well anyway.