Chef News

Part two: Chef and Tell with Kelly Liken of Restaurant Kelly Liken

Page 3 of 3

Who's your favorite celebrity chef? Mario Batali. I love his food. It's very simple and ingredient-driven, and he just has such a jolly attitude. He and his partner have built this amazing company out of respecting people and ingredients, slow and steady. Is there a celebrity chef you wish would shut up? Gordon Ramsay gets himself a little hysterical. I don't watch him, and I don't think you need to treat people that way. But I am also aware that it's television, and for some reason the powers-that-be think that makes for good television.

What's the best culinary tip you have for a home cook? Taste your food a lot. Trust yourself. You know what you like. Trust yourself more than the recipe.

What was your proudest moment as a chef? When I opened my restaurant. It took almost a year and a lot of hard work. Cooking for my guests for the first time was really lovely.

And the most satisfying moment? I designed the menu for my sister's wedding. They wouldn't let me actually cook, because they wanted me to be a guest, but I worked closely with the chef, and we made a wonderful, crazy meal. She and her husband aren't extraordinarily adventurous diners. So we made things like tiny BLTs and mac and cheese -- exactly what they'd want to eat at home, but we elevated it to a level where people were really impressed, and we accomplished something special for her.

What's your take on national trends? It seems like the burger joint has exploded. Everybody's opening a gourmet cheeseburger place. That's really cool, but at the same time I feel we need to find the next thing. Cupcakes might be over, though I've heard the doughnut is the new cupcake.

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman