May 20, 1965 |
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Carmel High School
New York University
|Occupation||TV host, author|
|Spouse(s)||Barry Rice (m. 2013)|
Cooking allows you to have travels, adventures and journeys without going anywhere. The running joke between my partner and me is that I'm not really concerned about how long it takes, or how much I destroy the kitchen, because I just have such a good time doing it.
I like to have friends in the kitchen and make a big mess and use every pot in the kitchen.
A friend told me about the casting notice for 'Queer Eye.' I was in Chicago and I had a contract with 'Esquire' magazine, so had been coming to New York City regularly and thought I'd catch a cheap flight, crash on a friend's sofa and do this hilarious audition that I had no chance of winning.
I've always hoped 'Chopped' would telegraph our enormous affection and love and admiration for chefs and food, but at the same time, we are inflicting extraordinary cruelty on them.
People who hardly ever cook at all, suddenly at the holidays, feel like it's their responsibility to not only cook dinner for large groups of people suddenly, but to serve things that are fussy or fancy or formal. And I don't think that's what anybody really wants, especially if you're not good at it.
You know the great irony is that people think you have to have money to enjoy fine food, which is a shame.
I had a little epiphany when I was a writer at 'Chicago' magazine. I sat down to dinner at the Ritz-Carlton. Somebody poured a white dessert wine with chocolate cake. It was a wine I would never have expected to make sense. The idea of any wine tasting fabulous with chocolate cake was fascinating to me.
The world is full of people who would like nothing better than to spend six hours on a golf course. I would rather be chopping shallots.
Believe me, I understand the need for easy and speedy. After a 12-hour day of shooting 'Chopped,' say, I'm talking stir-fry, spaghetti, heck, peanut-butter sandwiches. But that's not about the joy of food. That's survival.
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is a form of service journalism. To be successful, I think it has to be a combination of a good story, it has to be funny, and it also needs to be packed with useful information.
Thom is one of those wonderful people to cook for because he absolutely loves it, just loves it. He loves to eat and drink and he'd be a great guest at any dinner party.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they cook for other people is to think that it has to be fancy and elaborate. This results in enormous expense and nine days of labor, plus you end up trying to assemble a croquembouche in front of your guests and everyone's experiencing flop sweat.
It's okay if you finish cooking something easy after your guests arrive – some dishes must be prepared a la minute, as chefs say. Just remember to keep talking.
I cook everything. I love Mediterranean cooking, I love Asian cooking. I do lots of Japanese noodles.
The great mystery to me is how restaurant critics think they can get away with doing their job without anybody noticing who they are.
Not to sound too much like Christopher Guest in 'Waiting for Guffman,' but on Thanksgiving you're putting on a show!
I'm in a loft and the kitchen is in the very center of the apartment. The whole place revolves around it.
One of the smartest things you can do on 'Chopped' is to take one of those ingredients and make a pickle out of it, because almost every dish benefits from that. I'm feeling like those intuitions are becoming more natural.
Well, we don't take money from people and then show the product. It has to be a product that we like anyway, and that's true for all five of us, which is one of the really nice things about the way we make the show.
When I come home from a shoot, I'd rather reheat food I've made than eat takeout.
I think what I do differently from a lot of TV chefs is that I break down barriers and make fine food more accessible to the regular person, who might be intimidated. I try hard, particularly with wine, to make it not intimidating. It's sort of a teaching job.
I had a really good time with Martha Stewart, who also is somebody I really admire a lot. I've learned a lot from her and I think all of America has, about attention to detail and using fresh ingredients and making things beautiful and special.
It's a 12-hour cooking class for me on the set of 'Chopped.' You'd think I'd get sick of it, but it's a source of endless interest to me. The only thing I don't like about it is it's a long day and my feet hurt. Otherwise, I love it.
My whole problem is that all of my favorite things at Thanksgiving are the starches, and everyone is trying to go low-carb this year, even a green vegetable has carbs in it.
I'm a home cook and love to read about food, but I'm not trained as a chef. I'm just really into cooking and passionate about it.
For each episode the five of us are all wearing clothes by the same designer. It's a different designer for each episode, but for each one we're all wearing their clothes.
My place in Chicago is a 105 year old house, but I really like contemporary spaces too, so it's refreshing and fun to be in a space where you can do contemporary things.
I've leased the apartment; my partner is going to come out here. But we're keeping our house in Chicago because real estate is a really good investment and also because it is just crammed with full of stuff!
I think that curiosity happened on these reviews where I was just a guest of the reviewer, because it introduced me to new cuisines and to the idea of cooking as a mechanism for studying other cultures and understanding other parts of the world.
To me, the kitchen is a place of adventure and entirely fun, not drudgery. I can't think of anything better to do with family and friends than to be together to create something.
However, I was a restaurant critic at Chicago magazine before I worked at Esquire, and I've been a really enthusiastic home cook for a long time. It's just something I'm passionate about.
I really have a great deal of humility in that department, and a great deal of respect for people who spend their lives learning how to make these amazing preparations.
Planning a dinner party in a way that you're actually capable of getting it done without panicking is important. It's bad hospitality for the host to be freaked out.
No, Queer Eye has a book coming out before mine, in the Spring of 2004, in which each of us has a section and we do a brief overview of our subject area.
It's very important to me that people who are actual chefs and other professionals in the culinary world, understand that I'm not, and have never held myself out as being, like a CIA trained chef.
When the idea of 'Chopped' surfaced, it was originally meant to be taped at some guy's mansion with him and his crazy Chihuahua. A stuffy fellow in a tuxedo was to host, and the losing chef's dish was then fed to the dog! I am not kidding, I saw it! I think it is genius! Twisted, but genius!
Cooking for people is an enormously significant expression of generosity and soulfulness, and entertaining is a way to be both generous and creative. You're sharing your life with people. Of course, it's also an expression of your own need for approval and applause. Nothing wrong with that.
The best way to learn is live, in person, cooking, feeling, smelling and tasting, but TV is the second-best thing to that; it's a halfway facsimile.
For me, the kitchen is the most special room in the house. It's a place for adventure – not drudgery, but discovery, sharing and showing off with friends, trying new ideas.
I'm really trying to respond to the foods that are in the stores and just pulling the things that are the very best and cook what looks beautiful and is seasonal. That's the way to go. I love going to the grocery store and the market. None of it's drudgery for me. Washing dishes is the drudgery.
In recent years, I've been writing because I'm fortunate enough to work in the world of food television, to travel and taste and learn about cooking from the best chefs in the business.