Biggest compliment you've ever received: A high-five from a guest. It was awesome. I walked out to the patio on the third day we were open to see how a table was enjoying their food, and a woman sitting down held out her hand, told me how awesome the food was and then gave me a high-five.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? A mandoline. I use it all the time, and so does my wife. It's one of these things that I'd never buy for myself, because I'm so used to using a knife.
What are your favorite wines and/or beers? For beers, I like Left Hand Milk Stout, because it's so smooth, nutty and delicious, and when it comes to wine, I like the red Gypsy Dancer and the white St. Hallett Poacher's Blend, which I've only had a few times, but it was so good that I can't get it out of my head.
What do you cook at home that you never cook at the restaurant? Egg drop ramen. I love Asian food, and my wife and I make it a lot at home, but when we want a good, quick meal, we take a square package of ramen noodles - yes, those ramen noodles - and drop scrambled eggs and green onions in there. It's awesome.
Favorite music to cook by: Blind Pilots. Since opening Cafe|Bar, they've kept me calm.
What's your favorite knife? My Scimitar is great for cutting meat and fish.
One book that every chef should read: Setting the Table, by Danny Meyer. It's a book that really reiterates the need for chefs to get out of the kitchen and into the dining room, and it stresses the importance of interacting with the customers and how our communication is so integral to running a restaurant.
You're making a pizza. What's on it? Mushrooms, goat cheese, shallots and mizuna lettuce.
Guiltiest food pleasure: Velveeta shells and cheese. I know, I know, I know, but I just can't help myself.
Best culinary tip for a home cook: Read the recipe all the way through the first time before you actually start cooking, and be as organized as you can. And keep trying more challenging recipes, because you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll grow and get better.
If you could cook in another chef's kitchen, whose would it be? Thomas Keller's French Laundry. I imagine he has everything in his kitchen that I could ever possibly want or need, and he's got a garden right across the street that he uses for all of his restaurants. To have that kind of produce, herbs and bounty right at my hands - that would be awesome. When I had dinner there, the chefs were all in the garden with their wooden baskets filling them with all sorts of things to get ready for dinner service. It was amazing.