Because I spent the waning days of 2010 trolloping from Cracker Barrel to Cracker Barrel, I forgot to take a look back at the year in Eaterrogations. I only started the series in April (with Thomas Keller) so it's not exactly a year. Nonetheless, the roster is pretty impressive when taken as whole: Keller, Ripert, Redzepi, Adria, Andoni, Arzak, Bourdain, Cowin, Batali, Boulud, Lawson, Moulton, Ducasse, Donder and Blitzen to name a few. The best part, for me, is that I actually got to meet these people and ask them questions. The interviews were fun, contentious, uneasy, light-hearted, serious and — with the exception of Tyler Florence's — honest.
We've got some great chefs (and sundry foodish people) lined up for this year, but before we go, here are my ten favorite lines from 2010.
1) Eric Ripert on Anger: "Like I teach my son who is six years old, nobody is happy to be angry. You can not mix both feelings. You are either happy or you are angry. At the end of the day, the chef who is screaming cannot be happy. Maybe he is feeling powerful, but he is blind powerful."
2) Tony Bourdain on the Blogosphere: "I think the blogosphere is the future. It's agonizing to watch the established food media try to deal with that. It's like watching your grandparents trying to breakdance. It's sad."
3) Alain Ducasse on his infamous Essex House pens: "I don’t use the pens any more because the New Yorkers stole them all. They complained but then they stole them. They signed the bill, saw it was expensive, so they took the pens."
4) Dana Cowin: "I on a private discussion on a private plane: We had this whole conversation of when a chef is in his or her prime. Dave [Chang] said "You have to be young, unmarried and with no children." I was really pushing up against that. I was saying, "No, there's different types of creativity." Tom [Colicchio], who was sitting behind us, comes back to the conversation and I said Dave, "Ask him the conversation but don't prejudice the answer." So Dave did. "Tom," he said, "when do chefs make their best work?" and Tom, without missing a beat, replied, "When you're young, unmarried and when you don't have children." It's that simple?"
5) Graham Elliot (né Bowles) on his awkward high school years: "In high school I made my own t-shirts. Each one was named after a different day of the week. So I didn't have to deal with fashion. My religion was called Me-ism. It was inspired by Ayn Rand and objectivism."
6) Sir Francis Lam on the possibilities and limits of food diplomacy: "I don't think I can sit down for a slice of pizza with you and we'll work everything out. Even if we both love pizza. But maybe at least we can talk about the pizza. And from there we can talk about what matters to us about the pizza. We can talk about the first pizza we ever had. Maybe from there we'll learn to trust each other. [Pause] But look, that's never happened."
7)This one is a picture, of René Redzepi in front of school children in the Lower East Side.
8) Alton Brown on his faith: "I'm not a spooky snake handler because I live in Georgia and I'm Christian, that I believe in the Bible, that I travel with the Bible, that I read the Bible everyday. I'm still me. I'm still a guy doing a job."
9). Ferran Adria responding to my question, "Will there be people who can go to the new elBulli foundation to eat?"
"If you ask yourself that, you probably don't understand the philosophy of elBulli."
10) Sara Moulton on finding out her show was cancelled: "I said that to everybody thinking I was so level-headed and that I was a chef first, but when they took the show away, I was devastated. Even though I felt like I didn't have a huge ego like "I'm Sara Moulton!" But even though I knew all of that, I forgot who I was.
So when they took that rug out from under you?
Even then, I thought I am still a mom, I'm still a wife. I'm still a chef. I'm still a teacher. But I really had to talk to somebody about it."
Bonus: Nigella Lawson on being flirtatious: "I don't think I'm flirtatious. That makes me cringe. However I can see I'm not a skinny woman and the male gaze is such that whatever is there is seen to be there for their benefit. The fact that I'm fleshy looks somehow as if I am trying to display myself. But that is my shape. It goes right back to Scarlett O'Hara having to eat before she went out because it wasn't lady like. If you see a woman showing any appetite it is seen as wanton."