D'Amico Kitchen's Justin Frederick: Chef Chat, Part 3
The Chambers Hotel, where D'Amico Kitchen is run by chef Justin Frederick.
Here's the final installment of our chef chat with Justin Frederick of D'Amico Kitchen. (Here are parts 1 and 2 of the interview, for the latecomers.) Today Frederick talks about his favorite restaurants across the country, including what it's like to eat a duck testicle and where to find the best bowl of soup in the state.
What is your favorite Twin Cities restaurant other than your own? Origami. I like the seaweed salad a lot, and I like getting the best tuna they have, the daily market special.
What if it was your birthday and someone wanted to take you out? New Scenic Café [in Duluth], 'cause it's beautiful up there and they do a good job. Probably one of the best soups I've ever had in my life was up at that restaurant at lunch, tomato with boudin sort of sausages in it. It was perfect. I'm serious. It was a freakin' moment. I almost cried because this soup was perfect. It was the best soup of my life. I was left with nothing to say. I spent 15 minutes just slowly eating that soup.
In your opinion, what is the best food city in America? Absolutely it's going to be New York. I'm doing the whole Italian thing right now. Maiolino was a really nice restaurant. All of Michael White's restaurants--Convivio, Alto, Marea.
I like Chicago because it's a little bit more economical from where we live.
What is your favorite restaurant in America? I can't say that there would be any particular one. I did eat at Alinea [in Chicago], and that was a pretty fantastic experience.
So you're a fan of molecular gastronomy? I'm not a follower, in the sense that I don't try to do it. It's good to know exactly what's happening in the pan or in the machines on that level, but I don't believe in manipulating it on that level. I get it, but it doesn't really interest me.
What is the weirdest thing you've ever eaten? I ate cock's comb once and that was pretty weird. Actually, that's the not the weirdest thing. I ate a duck testicle. [It was] creamy.
What has been your most embarrassing moment? I just got done working almost a month straight. It was my 30th birthday and my girlfriend at the time threw me a surprise birthday party. They got me into the restaurant by saying my sous chef was drunk and breaking plates and pushing people around. It was my first day off, and that's how they got me in the restaurant. I was ready to kill my sous chef.
It was embarrassing in the sense that it was a surprise, and I didn't like it. I could smell my own blood.
Which celebrity chef do you think should shut up? Tom Colicchio. That's not my first answer, but let's go with him. He's a hypocrite. There was an episode that he told someone they failed the competition because they didn't precook their mussels, and then there was an episode where he yelled at someone for doing the opposite of that.
I don't like watching those shows. It doesn't give me anxiety, but that's what I do for a living. It just doesn't do anything for me. I think the panel judges on those shows are ridiculous.
Do you have a show you would like to pitch to the Food Network? I hate the Food Network.
What is your favorite thing to do when you're not in the kitchen? Sleep. Spend time with my girlfriend.
Do you let your girlfriend cook? We cook together. She's actually in the industry, too.
What is your best culinary tip for a home cook? Don't take yourself too seriously. Cooking requires a bit of yourself on a soulful level, so try to have fun with it.
Any advice for aspiring chefs? I look at these kids and I just want to say to them, take that $40,000 and go travel and go work for free and work in the best restaurants that you can find. That's a better investment of your resources.
Who is one person, dead or alive, that you would like to cook for? My grandma. She likes to cook and she had a lot of kids.
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