Is there a current food trend that you’re particularly excited about?
I’m not excited about trends in general. That’s my official answer. Trends are not trendy with me.
Is there a direction you see food heading that you're in favor of?
What I think is wonderful is the rebirth and rediscovery of cheaper cuts of meat, because those are the cuts that have the most flavor and the highest fat content. Those things I love. I think the best gravy is made when the gristle, and the suet, and all the gelatin, and the bone, and the sinew melt down slowly over the time and mingle with the slow roasted spices. I want to scrape the bottom of every bowl. That’s where it’s at for me. This rediscovery of homey kind of foods, where you have all of these grilled cheese sandwich shops popping up in the East Village, or mac and cheese places, and the hot dogs, and the fried chicken, and the BBQ. I like that. I’ve been to French Laundry and I go to Daniel all the time, but really, I will pursue the back of some guys’s pick-up truck if the best BBQ is being cooked out of the flatbed.
What are your thoughts on the increasing focus on farm-to-table and sustainability? How do you think that’s changing the culinary scene?
I think it’s really great. I think it’s great for a lot of reasons beyond food. I think it gets the community enthusiastic about the food they’re eating. I think it trickles down to the next generation and those people’s children. It helps the economy. All of the factories that closed down in New Jersey and in Brooklyn have now turned into microbreweries and dairy farms.
I didn’t think the Brooklyn in Smorgasburg would have been possible, or GoogaMooga, or the Hester Street Fair. I grew up in New York. I remember being here in the '70s and I remember those block parties and closing down the streets. I loved them. But then I remember coming back to New York when I got out of college in the ‘90s, and basically block parties just turned into people selling big bags of tube socks and funnel cake. That’s not what it was about. It was about the whole family being able to have something. That kind of just became extinct because it was all about commerce.
I also think it’s easier to eat seasonal and locally if you live in certain parts of the country compared to others. As much as I love the Union Square market, there’s always that week in the dead of winter where’s there’s just sweet potatoes and apples.
Being that you’re single, do you cook for dates, or is that something you build up to, or they have to earn? I know cooking for someone can be very personal.
I don’t cook on the first few dates, because I don’t know if I want them in my home. I cook a lot. It is very personal. I cook on a daily basis. I do cook for people. I cooked on my birthday last week; I cooked for all my friends. It was delicious.
When you’re not in the mood to cook, where is your favorite date spot in the city?
I live in the East Village, so I love wd-50, I love Indochine, I love Marea. I don’t think it’s a good date spot, because it's very loud, but I love ABC Kitchen. I wish that could be my commissary every day.
Considering your cookbook Easy Exotic explores international eats, and you live in New York, what exotic cuisine do you consider to be under-appreciated here?
I think Sri Lankan food. It’s really hard to find, it’s really good, and it’s not similar to Indian food. It’s much spicier and it’s very layered. Malaysian food is also very interesting. Moroccan food, but it’s hard to find really good Moroccan food here. But the best place for exotic ingredients is Kalustyan's.
Do you have any guilty pleasures, in terms of food or just… life?
You know, I never feel guilty about taking pleasure in anything.