What could be more delicious than meeting famed chef and...
What could be more delicious than meeting famed chef and restauranteur, Chef Todd English during the holiday season?
Absolutely nothing!!! He's charismatic, charming, charitable, and he is NYC's number one celebrity chef. Chef Todd English is a celebrity chef, restaurateur, author, and television personality. He is a serial James Beard Award winner and was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's "Who's Who in Food and Beverage in America."
After having an amazing lunch at The Todd English Food Hall, located inside the luxurious Plaza Hotel, the moment I have been waiting for finally arrives - the handsome and endearing Chef Todd. His energy and kindness put me right at ease. As I eat the food from this restaurant, I think to myself, Is it really possible for someone to be this handsome and cook the most amazing food I have ever tasted? It's like a Christmas miracle! I am so full, but I take one final bite, and we begin our interview.
SET: Todd, with the holiday season right around the corner - you are one of the first people I thought of, because I have seen your Pumpkin Lasagna with the White Truffle puree. Oh My God!!! I am positively enamored with anything "Truffle"! Tell us why this could be the ultimate dish to serve during the holidays? And, for those of us who cook... myself excluded --- I'm more likely to use my oven as extra storage for my off-season Louboutins - but Todd doesn't need to know this, can you share with us this decadent recipe?
TODD: (Laughs) Well, I think it's kind of self explanatory. (chuckles again) No really, first of all, I adore White Truffle, which I think much of the world does. That's why they are so expensive! Actually, I am always looking for new and interesting combinations and pumpkin is very relatable especially with Thanksgiving and the holidays here now.
It's a harvest food and there are so many different renditions to be done with pumpkin. So I brought pumpkin, my love of Italian food and White Truffle all together and when you taste it, (pause) ahhh, the combination of the two is really brilliant.
I can hear the charming nostalgia in his voice...
I wanted to do a play on it for the holidays because this is when my "Italian-ness" (chuckles softly) always comes out. On Thanksgiving, my mother, who's 100 % Italian, always makes a Lasagna; we rarely ate much turkey on Thanksgiving because the Lasagna was so good and we were so full (laughs).
So the kid in me really always loves to have a Lasagna around Thanksgiving or for holidays, and the Pumpkin and White Truffle is really just how I made it all grown up.
I have to admit, I am completely enamored with his childhood story of Italian food at Thanksgiving reflected through the smooth tone of his voice. My body is instantly craving lasagna, turkey, pumpkin, and white truffles. I'm all kinds of confused but I'm suddenly hungry again! What is this man doing to me?!
A Sinful Dish And A Celebrity Chef...
SET: Anyway... Todd, since it is the holiday season and we are all tempted to be a little bad and break the rules. Tell us, what is your favorite sinful dish to indulge in? I just can't help myself...
TODD: (pauses for just a second... and then laughs) My bad sinful food, I still love
a Cacio e Pepe. When I want to be bad (laughs) and not bad, He catches himself in his polite and charming way... (laughs again) but bad in a good way! When I indulge in a serious way, I like to say... When I want to commit "carbocide" (chuckles) I'd go for a good Cacio e Pepe. I just did a dish last night for a party that was a Papradelle w poached dover sole, with sea urchin and quail egg.
So, now we all know where to go next time we are in Midtown. Who knows! We just might catch Chef Todd there, being bad... (The good kind of bad, of course!)
SET: OMG that dish sounds decadent and amazing!
TODD: Yes, it was pretty insane!
SET: You had me at Sea Urchin (laughing)!!!...and "Carbocide". You need to patent that, I love that!! Unfortunately, I commit that way to often.
TODD: (laughs) Oh boy, that's trouble!...
SET: Okay, refocusing from that crazy delicious-ness you are tempting me with...Tell us, when was the defining moment you realized you were actually being recognized as a world renowned celebrity chef?
TODD: (laughs heartily) You mean I am one??
SET: (cracking up) You are!!!
TODD: (laughing) Oh okay, right now- you just defined it for me! (laughs again) Ahhh, I think it was when we started to expand overseas, but I don't really think there was just one defining moment. I always say "it took me 30 years to become an overnight success". That's what makes this very humbling. It's not just given to you. This is something that you really have to work on every day and it's not just laid out on a red carpet for you. It really is a grind to stay on top. So, I would say I'm constantly redefining myself.
Personally, I think Chef Todd has defined himself pree--ty well.
In Chef Todd's perfect world...
SET: What is a key piece of advice you would give any aspiring chefs?
TODD: You have to realize that this is not an overnight success business and that you are only as good as your last meal. So keep moving and thinking forward. (pause, chuckles softly) You know, I talk a lot about how when I'm in a bad mood; I make bad mood food. When I'm in a good mood; I make good mood food. So, stay true to who you are and develop who you are. Because what we do is very personalized and that comes out in our work. The point is that this business is a real balance. So, I think constantly working on yourself to present what YOU really want to represent in this world is most important.
SET: That's fantastic advice. I really love that. Now, can you tell us 3 words that sum up the real Todd English?
TODD: I would have to say Passionate, Driven, and Humble.
SET: Can you finish this sentence, In my perfect world...
TODD: There would be harmony and beautiful cuisine for all.
If you would like Chef Todd's recipe for THE PUMPKIN LASAGNA or if you know any other famous NYC characters that should be featured in Set In The City, please email me atSusan@SetInTheCity.com or Susan.Turner@Elliman.com