Favorite restaurant in America: I love so many restaurants, so it's hard to nail down just one. For me, restaurants are places to enjoy great food, but to also enjoy the company of my friends. For breakfast, my favorite joint is the Pork Store Cafe in San Francisco. They have a dish called "Eggs in a Tasty Nest," and it's just this amazing, messy-ass plate of food that's so good, especially when you're suffering from a hangover. The best dinner experience I've ever had was at Michael Mina in the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I was working at Knobhill in the MGM Grand and got a hookup from the chefs at Michael Mina, and the service and the food were incredible.
Best food city in America: There's everything and anything you would ever want in San Francisco. I'm a huge fan of street food, and the Mission District in San Francisco has the most amazing tacos ever. My brothers and I love to go on taco crawls where we have a beer and a taco in as many of the Mission District taquerías as possible -- or until we just can't take it any longer. Then we just move on to more beer.
Favorite music to cook by: Journey on Pandora radio. I totally rock the '80s. I sing and dance in the kitchen while I have the radio going, but no one else can really hear it, so everyone thinks I'm just singing to myself.
Biggest kitchen disaster: While doing a tasting for an executive chef position at the Corner Office a few years back, I went a little off the deep end and tried out a whole bunch of food that I wasn't entirely comfortable with -- including pad Thai. I made it for a large group, and the response from the panel was that, while they agreed that most of the food was good, they hated the pad Thai. Some guy actually said that he wouldn't feed it to his dog. Apparently, that's how bad it was. I stood there and took the criticism, and at the end of the interview process, I told the panel that if they gave me this position, the next time they came into the restaurant, I'd make sure that I had the best pad Thai in the city. Believe it or not, I ended up with the job.
What's never in your kitchen? Bad attitudes. We all get along well in my kitchen, and there aren't any egos. The notion that chefs have to be assholes in order to motivate their crew is a thing of the past.