Favorite music to cook by:
Depends on the mood and the amount of work. Most of the time, probably some classic rock, but sometimes something a little slower is good too. The cooks are going to hate it the day I set up my iPod and put on some good French music!!
Best food city in America:
I would say San Francisco. Then, New York and Chicago.
Favorite restaurant in America:
I don't really have a favorite restaurant. I don't go out as much as I would like to, but when I do, I like to try new restaurants all the time.
What you'd like to see more of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
More places with more “adventurous” ingredients. There are only a handful of restaurants with more exotic ingredients and that's probably in response to a lack of willingness to try something different from the local diners.
I don't understand why a lot of the OC residents travel and eat all over the world – in some of the most exotic and famous places – but then when they come back home it's back to the basics.
What you'd like to see less of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
Fewer corporate-run restaurants.
Le Manoir au Quat' Saisons by Chef Raymond Blanc
What show would you pitch to the Food Network?
Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Squirrel! Sorry! One of my cooks came back with it after a trip back home in Connecticut, I believe. That wasn't delicious!
You're making an omelet. What's in it?
Onions, mushrooms, spinach and Swiss cheese – I would season it with Tabasco or Cholula hot sauce.
You're at the market. What do you buy two of?
Bottles of wine!
Favorite OC restaurant(s) other than your own:
Javier's in Crystal Cove, Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills, Hamamori in South Coast Plaza.
Hardest lesson you've learned:
How unfair some travel and food guides can be.
What would the last meal on Earth be?
Without a doubt it would an “Alsatian Tarte Flambée” which is the famous YG's pizza (crème fraiche, onions and Applewood smoked bacon) that I have on our menu. It's my first and last meal every time I visit my family in Strasbourg and I never ever get tired of it. It's sooooo delicious!
Who's your hero? Culinary or otherwise?
I have worked in quite a few famous kitchens and alongside very famous chefs, but none of them come close to what my grandparents gave me – from all aspects. Teaching me about life and values and as far as cooking – the best apprenticeship possible. Teaching me all the basics about cooking and respecting the fruits and vegetables that he was very proudly growing in his garden. We were doing everything from jams, canned fruits, Cornichons, crème fraiche, fromage blanc, homemade schnapps, charcuterie, breads, pastries and the list goes on and on and on. I was very, very fortunate to be part of it.
What cuisine that you are unfamiliar with would you want to learn more about and why?
I was recently a guest chef on a Silverseas Cruise and the end destination was Barcelona. It's not that I am unfamiliar with Spanish food but it exceeded my expectations. The food was simply prepared, fresh, very flavorful and the portions were nice. Makes you want more…