Location: Paris, France
What is your favorite thing to cook?
Salad. I make a lot of salads. That was how I got my job at Chez Panisse. During my interview before I got hired, Alice Waters asked me what my favorite thing to make was, and I said: “Salad.” I didn’t know it at the time, but it was hers, too.
What is your least favorite thing to cook?
Anything deep-fried. A recipe that starts with “Heat 2 quarts of oil in a large pot on your stove,” makes me turn the page. I don’t like the mess or the smell of deep-frying at home.
What is your advice for people who are just starting out in the industry?
I was speaking to a group last year at a book event in New York City when someone in the audience, who was just starting a career as a baker, asked what they should do for their career — I said “You’re not going to like this, but move out of New York.” It’s certainly true that there's great talent and opportunities in New York, but the challenges are very tough to overcome — high rent and long commutes make life pretty hard. In the last ten years or so, almost every city in America has great restaurants and bakeries, and I think you can learn just as much somewhere else without constantly having to struggle to get by.
Over the course of your career, how have you seen inclusivity in the food industry change?
I was fortunate that most of my jobs were in restaurants that were either owned by women, or had women chefs — so I never thought that women couldn’t do the same things that men could do, and neither did the people around me. When I worked in San Francisco, a large portion of the staff was gay and lesbian wherever I worked — so, personally, I didn’t have too many issues.
I do think restaurant kitchens can be tough places, often staffed by people that live on the fringes of society (I’ve been one, and worked with a few of them, too), but know at the end of the day, what matters most to co-workers in a restaurant kitchen is whether you can do the job or not.