Cafe Society

Round two with Hugo Matheson, exec chef of The Kitchen

Page 3 of 3

What's never in your kitchen? Fools, trans fats and anything else that's unnecessary. I like to keep things to a minimum.

What's always in your kitchen? Good eggs from Monroe, Wisdom or Cure Organic farms, olive oil, cumin, smoked mackerel, a sharp knife and an eccentric and diverse group of characters, all of whom have passion, which is incredibly important.

What are your biggest pet peeves? Wasting food or, for that matter, wasting anything. I was brought up with the saying "Waste not, want not." It's great advice when you think about it. I also can't stand it when people are habitually late. Someone once explained to me that it was an illness and that there's nothing that you can do about it, but even if I believed that, it would still drive me insane. Cell phones in a customer-service space, seeing a bar-tender check their cell phone, a cashier in a shop texting — that all drives me insane. Your job is to focus and be present for customers, which is apparently becoming more and more of a challenge.

Biggest compliment you've ever received: Every time a customer comes through the door for the second time and beyond. It really is amazing when somebody enjoys what you do.

What's your best piece of advice to culinary-school grads? What I'd like to say to students is to get real-world experience first. They need to really believe in and understand food before they spend all that tuition.

Best recipe tip for a home cook: Trust your taste, and remember you're cooking for yourself

What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? The one thing that really stands out was a food processor, although I very rarely use one these days. I got it when I was a child, and I remember making profiteroles from the recipe book. I'm not a knife fanatic, but I do like a sharp knife, and Kimbal Musk brought me a knife back from Japan, which I love; it doesn't go anywhere near the dishwasher, or in the drawer. It was a simple present, but a very expensive one. Apparently, it was Christmas for the next ten years.

One book that every chef should read: The Devil in the Kitchen, by Marco Pierre White, is all about the in-sight into the workings and mentality of the restaurant world, which really is madness. I also love any book by Elizabeth David, a cook, traveler and woman who just beautifully conveys the passion and beauty of European cooking and a simple way of life...if you don't include war.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson