This is part two of my interview with Doug Mace, exec chef of Cy Steak and the forthcoming BaRed; part one of my chat with Mace ran yesterday.
Most noteworthy meal you've ever eaten: Franina Italian Restaurant, my old stamping ground in Syosset, New York. Every meal I've ever eaten there, including the family meals, has been ten times better than most restaurant experiences. They use the freshest produce and seafood, the greatest protein cuts, and every employee there has a vested interest in the food. Passion is something you can taste, and this food drips with passion.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: A shot of turtle blood with gin whisked into it. Thank you, Morimoto, for that experience.
What dish would you love to put on your menu, regardless of how well it would sell? A Bangladesh curry with sautéed pork that's braised in caramelized onions, jalapeños and dark Indian beer. It's sweet from the natural sugar from the onions, but it's really spicy, too, and I'm not sure that Americans could stand the heat.
Favorite dish on your menu right now: We just revamped the menu a week ago, and our housemade Parmesan-and-truffle gnocchi is a stunner.
Best recipe tip for a home cook: Send your cautions to the wind. You're not a chef, you're a cook -- so be okay with making mistakes and the learning process. We chefs don't arrive at success in one meal, so don't expect to nail it with your first turkey. The soffritto will be probably be burnt, and your hands, too. That's just part of practicing before you get it right.
Favorite culinary gift to get: As a chef who enjoys enhancing food, it would have to go to the gifted bottles of wine. I love my big Italian reds and my dry German whites. A bottle of Gaja, Brunello di Montepulciano or Alsatian Riesling always make me happy.
Favorite culinary item to give as a gift: If it's for a chef, then I like to give them a book on the roots and/or history of food. And for an everyday person interested in food, I like to give something like a basket of fine cheeses with honeys and charcuterie.