Favorite cooking show? America's Test Kitchen. It sounds boring, but I love how they use a lot of thought and research to turn a good classic dish into something great.
What's always lurking in your refrigerator? Chile peppers.
What cookbooks are you reading, and what are you cooking from them? I'm reading an Australian cookbook all about barbecue that my folks sent to me. It's got some awesome baby-octopus recipes in there and a killer bouillabaisse recipe that I want to try.
Best recipe tip for a home cook: Follow the recipe to a tee first and then explore. Taste it the way it's written and then add your own flavors next time.
What's your biggest pet peeve? There's always something that needs to be done in the kitchen, so when employees stand around talking, doing nothing, I get super-peeved.
Biggest mistake a chef can make on the line: Failing to have everything prepped. The devil is in the details, and in the heat of the moment, not having something prepped can very quickly destroy a great night in the kitchen.
Which chef has most inspired you? He's not exactly a professional chef; he's my old Australian neighbor, Bob Whitlock, who can take anything that's in his cupboard, mix and match it, put it all together and turn it into a gourmet meal. By using simple smell and taste, he can turn nothing into a mouthwatering dish.
If you could have dinner with three chefs, dead or alive, whom would you choose? Rachael Ray, just to prod her about how she became so successful; Bobby Flay, because he's never challenged us for a waffle showdown; and Paul Prudhomme, because I love what he does with Southern food, despite the fact that he uses fifteen sticks of butter in everything he makes.
If you could cook in another chef's kitchen, whose would it be? It would be any kitchen that has more stuff in it than ours, but I'd love to jump into Sushi Den's kitchen and Roscoe's in L.A., because it's famous for chicken and waffles, which we're putting on the menu at the new location in Uptown.