With 20 years of cooking under his belt, Jeff Armstrong has paid his dues. With no particular role model or long-term plans, we get the feeling he's not quite happy-go-lucky, but more living in the moment. Part one may be where we started our conversation, but our second round of questioning provided more insight than we expected.
Hardest lesson you've learned:
The hard work it takes to become a chef.
What would your last meal on earth be?
Who's your hero, culinary or otherwise:
I don't have one.
Tell us about your food-service-industry background.
I have worked in kitchens since I was 14. From pizza places to crab houses to fine dining.
Where did you grow up, and what brought you here?
Washington, D.C. A job.
Restaurants you've been wanting to check out.
Broadway by Amar Santana.
We heard your pastry chef prefers creating more savory desserts. How's your sweet tooth?
I have a terrible sweet tooth. I don't like my desserts too sweet, but I like candy. I got sober three years ago, and ever since then, my sweet tooth has been out of control. I'm a garbage disposal.
Favorite seafood to cook with.
Scallops pair well with all kinds of different flavors.
What's dish would you tell newcomers to Splashes to try first?
Scallops, farro risotto, orange, ginger and cucumbers.
What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
Playing professional poker. [Editor's Note: He's not kidding.]
What advice do you have for those who might be thinking about a career in food?
Stay in school, but don't do culinary school. Enjoy cooking; don't do it professionally. There's such a misconception about how cool it is to be a chef. I didn't go to culinary school [in Scottsdale, Arizona] until I was 20, but I knew what I was getting myself into. It's a lifestyle, too. Girls, drugs, rock & roll, and holidays — you give up everything to do it.
What do you see yourself doing in five years? Ten years?
I have no idea.