Chef, New York.
You are known for your daring cuisine and creative style. What motivated you to do things differently?
There isn’t one thing that motivated me to be different per se. I would say having a sense of curiosity is the main motivating factor to doing things differently and not to accept the status quo.
Has it been easy for you to challenge the status quo?
No, it has not been easy. These things never are. People generally take time to warm up to new ideas, so patience is a virtue in this regard.
Do you see the way fine dining is being done changing in New York? If so, how?
Yes I do see it changing as I also see it changing around the globe. Fine dining used to be for an older generation that has money and now is accessible to a younger generation. I don’t think fine dining itself has changed in that people still want personality, creativity and high quality. These fundamentals never change in the discipline of the creative arts. What has changed is the approach to how they deliver those fundamentals. To use an analogy, a hundred years ago, people went to the opera where they wore top hat and tails. People still attend operas but perhaps they don’t wear the same outfit. The approach has changed not the content.
Which restaurants are leading the change?
Glen Ellen Star (Sonoma) and Benu (San Francisco).
What inspires your creative process?
It isn’t one particular thing. More and more these days travel, culture and history seem to be the driving force behind ideas and inspiration.
Your cooking style has been described as “eccentric”. What do you take that to mean?
I have no idea what that means as I have never heard that word used to describe my cuisine. My guess would be that my cuisine is hard to pigeonhole, neither classical nor avant-garde but somewhere in between!