Who is your favorite celebrity chef? I don't watch celebrity chefs. The chefs I work with everyday are my celebrities, and maybe a few about town. There are so many wonderful men and women who work with food in this town that aren't celebrated. It's always the same old people, and they may deserve it, but so do many others who go unnoticed. For more great commentary on watching the Food Network, I recommend reading "Debbie Does Salad" from Harper's, October 2005.
What do you think is the best food city in America? San Francisco is my favorite food city. A drive out to Point Reyes is my second favorite.
What has been your weirdest customer request? The most recent weird request I've had, and there are volumes of them, was at Gigi's. Somebody didn't like that we got rid of the bronze walls. They thought it was too bright and wanted it back to being dark.
What is the weirdest thing you've ever eaten? I'm a little conservative and boring when it comes to eating weird stuff. I'm a supertaster, and I just don't need to go crazy with food. I don't eat very spicy or very sweet anything.
Probably venturing into sushi was the weirdest for me "growing up" culinarily. Sea urchin: yuck. But now I don't eat much sushi at all, given the crisis our oceans are in. It's hard to find a sushi place that's committed to only serving sustainably caught or farmed fish. I think we struggle with that as well, but we try hard.
What if it were your birthday and someone wanted to take you out to eat? For my birthday, they can take me to La Belle Vie and buy me champagne and the tasting menu.
What are your future plans for your restaurants? My plans for right now are to get through this expansion with sanity intact for me and the team of amazing people I work with, and to achieve amazing results in all the different venues. I have what I suspect is a sick desire to get a third "Best French Fries" award for another version of the french fry. So far the Stag and Barbette have both gotten them. Pat's Tap is next! Or maybe Bread & Pickle...
After the summer is over and we've kicked ass with Bread & Pickle and sold local foods and taught people how to compost in a public park, I hope to take a month off and decompress somewhere very quiet. Hopefully by then I won't have had some other harebrained idea for a restaurant that I feel the need to follow up on. But you never know!