Specialty Food Magazine

JUL-AUG 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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the most expensive way. When I open restaurants, I like to say we aren't opening a business, we are only trying to tell stories and put into practice the things my team and I have learned through our trips through the world. Everything becomes part of our cooking, from science to history to working with an artist in Seattle who inspires us. Everything works together. Your avant garde style has helped change the way cooking is approached and taught. Why do you think that is? We only now have a better knowledge of why things happen in cooking. Especially since Harold McGee wrote his book [On Food and Cooking: The Science and Love of the Kitchen (Scribner, 1984)], we can understand why oil fries or breaks. And by hav- ing this knowledge, we can be more creative and we can be better and substitute things, make foods lighter and healthier or make foods edible for people who have lactose intolerance. So science will be used in cooking schools of the future. It's going to be important. You will have to understand why things happen, like why an egg coagulates. Before we just knew it happened but now to understand why it happens will be a part of the curriculum of not only cooking schools but of every university. You've received so many honors. How did being named Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation last year affect you? It's great, no? It's great for me, but even more special is it's great for my team. The team is very proud. Everything trickles around. You're a huge part of DC Central Kitchen. How has it influenced your approach to food? Almost 20 years ago, I joined DC Central Kitchen, [which] my friend Robert Egger created in 1989. It was an eye opener. It was a way to see how food could give a chance to people, feed people, teach them a profession and then find them jobs in the community. So I became part of this organization and I worked all around and then became chairman and then chairman emeritus, and now I do a lot of fundraising for them. I've become a spokesperson for the beauty of what Egger does. Talk about your new charity, World Central Kitchen, which aims to feed and empower vulnerable people in humanitarian crises around the world. After the earthquake in Haiti, it was kind of a calling that said, "I have to start doing something," so I cre- ated World Central Kitchen. I hope this will be the next 30 or 40 years of my life. I'm going to try to put food to the service of making people's lives bet- ter. How we cook it, how we prepare it, what fuel we use. I'm trying to make sure that food becomes a solution. I hope one day I will be able to help be a part of ending hunger in the world and create opportunities in the process. And if I fail, at least I'm going to give it a chance. I want to make sure I'm part of finding solutions. What's your favorite thing about having your hands in so many projects? I get very bored doing one single thing. I like to do different things because I sense a huge synergy between all of them. Trying to manage the synergy is probably the key to success. I don't mean that I know how to do it yet! Is there one thing in your home kitchen that you always have on hand? We always have oranges to make fresh juice every morning—not too much, not too little. What do you do to relax? I like to go on the elliptical and watch "Modern Family," and I love to travel with my family. Any new projects in the works you want to share? We're opening a restaurant in Miami in December. You've accomplished so much in your career thus far. What are you most proud of? Trying to give opportunities to people is the thing that makes me happiest. If you knew you were eating your last meal, what would you have? I would prefer not to have a last meal. I'd rather remember all the amazing meals that I've had. And the plate of food I was supposed to have, I would rather give it to someone who has nothing—they're going to need it more than I am. |SFM| Denise Shoukas is a contributing editor to Specialty Food Magazine.

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