WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BREAKFAST?
Every morning I have a runny egg, toast with butter, avocado and sautéed kale with garlic, fish sauce, sesame oil and sesame seed. For a special breakfast, I love anything with eggs. As an example I’m a big fan of Shakshuka with a runny bread on top and some fresh baguette with butter.
IS THERE A CHILDHOOD COMFORT FOOD THAT YOU THINK ABOUT?
My mother always made crepes with spinach filling and tomato sauce and cheese on top. I’m a big fan of any kind of crepe.
WHICH TALENT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE THAT YOU DON’T POSSESS?
Knowing how to sing.
WAS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DO BEFORE YOU STARTED COOKING?
I wanted to be an astronaut. In fact, I spent a few summers working at NASA and in astronomy but realized one spent all day in front of a computer looking at data. In the end, I’m a people person, and I want to spend my time enjoying food and a laugh with friends.
IS THERE ONE FOOD THAT YOU’RE SECRETLY OBSESSED WITH HAVING AT HOME?
Good butter and olive oil. They are the secret ingredient to all food and can making anything tasty. I’m a big believer in being liberal about my use of both.
IS THERE A FOOD THAT YOU DISLIKE?
Candy and junk food. As a child, I realized there’s really good food that’s not hard to make. So, when people would offer me junk food or candy, I would just think to myself—I’d so much rather make some homemade muffins, scones, or crepes. So, I’d always do that instead…
IF YOU COULD FIND OUT ANYONE’S SECRET RECIPE, WHOSE AND WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Really good ramen soup broth. That’s one thing I haven’t been able to replicate at home.
WHAT’S YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MEAL AND WHY?
Hard to say—there are so many and for so many different reasons. All-day barbecues in Argentina with my extended family, chili hot pot on the street in Szechuan, China, lunch in Ethiopia for $1.50…
WHAT MENTORS HELPED YOU ALONG YOUR JOURNEY OF BECOMING A CHEF?
My mom (one of the best cooks I know and the person who taught me French/Italian/Spanish cuisine), Joan Nathan (the first chef I worked for and the person who taught me all the basic cooking techniques), Ottolenghi (I’ve never met him.. but I’ve made most of his recipes and read all his books.. He has a strong influence on my cooking today.
THROUGHOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY, HAVE YOU NOTICED A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KITCHENS THAT ARE RUN BY MEN VS. KITCHENS THAT ARE RUN BY WOMEN? IF SO, WHAT WAS THIS DIFFERENCE, AND HOW DID IT IMPACT THE OVERALL ENVIRONMENT WHILST PREPARING FOOD?
Yes, I’ve avoided traditional kitchens run by men when possible. In fact, that’s why I decided to never work in a restaurant—I was horrified by what I saw. However, that was over 20 years ago and I think things have changed.
IT IS REALLY SAD TO SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING GLOBALLY. YOUNG ASPIRING CHEFS ARE LOOKING TO THEIR HERO’S HOW TO TURN PAINT INTO CREATIVITY. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE ON HOW TO TURN THIS DIFFICULT TIME INTO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE?
What’s happening now is not a result of something new. To me, it’s an ulcer that’s been in the US for generations since slavery. And the problem is that so many of us (including myself) have learned to ignore systemic problems. That’s the sad part. However, I also believe that change often happens as a result of a crisis because that’s what our eyes open up. So, I’m hopeful that the current crisis will result in the change that should have happened generations ago.
WHAT IS ONE POSITIVE AND ONE NEGATIVE EFFECT COVID-19 HAS HAD ON YOUR LOVE FOR MAKING FOOD?
With so few other pleasures and sources of entertainment, I think a lot of people are realizing the pleasure provided by food. Apart from watching Netflix, listening to music, or reading a book, it’s the one thing people can enjoy and celebrate at home.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SPENDING YOUR TIME RECENTLY, HAVE YOU HAD TIME TO CREATE NEW RECIPES?
I’ve spent so much of my time juggling owning a business in a challenging time and homeschooling three kids. As a result, most of my new recipes these days are “free-style” baking at home with the kids where we grab whatever we feel like in the kitchen and see what happens…
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