Chef 101: Adam Longworth

Previous culinary experience — I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. Directly after that, I moved to London and worked at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for one year. And then I came to New York, started working at the Gotham Bar and Grill just as a line cook. I left for a period and went to Gramercy Tavern, then to Striped Bass in Philadelphia. I then got asked to come back to Gotham Bar and Grill to be the chef de cuisine there.

When I’m not eating my own food — I eat sandwiches. I like anything that I can put between bread. Burgers are probably my favorite. When we come home, it’s anything — ham and cheese, chicken salad, egg salad. My girlfriend is excellent at making sandwich fillings.

Born and raised — I was born and raised in Northfield, Vt.

Food I cannot stand — I can’t stand food that has the fake, liquid smoke in there. It drives me crazy. I love smoked food, but authentically smoked. I’m not a smoker, but liquid smoke kind of tastes like I’m eating a cigarette.

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Greatest cooking influence
—  I’ve had two guys that have really kind of taken me along, Christopher Lee being the first. He was the opening chef at Striped Bass. He really taught me to think out of the box and taught me to be creative with plating. And Alfred Portale, the chef-owner of Gotham Bar and Grill. He put a lot of faith in me and let me grow as a chef. With some guidance, he really let me have an impact on his menu and just helped me to create food that was kind of along Gotham guidelines but was very distinct at the same time.

Views on cooking TV shows —  I think that it’s great that there are cooking shows on TV, and I think it sparked a lot more interest in food. And I think it also educates people that are coming to dine at restaurants, just to get an overall sense of food. I think the downfall of it is that people that are new to the industry kind of see it as a glamorous lifestyle, and it’s really not. For young kids who can think they can come in and have a cooking show, it’s not so hot.

Strangest cuisine I’ve tried — I was in Japan for two weeks, and the traditional Japanese food was interesting — not that I didn’t like it, but there are a lot of textures to get used to. I’m not so good with cold and slimy. For me, strange is textures.

Must-have cooking utensil — My sauce spoon.

Thoughts on Washington’s food scene — When I came from New York, I came down thinking that Washington was quite a ways behind New York, and I don’t believe that to be true anymore. I think that there’s a lot of room for growth, but more and more we’re getting a lot of big-name chefs down here, and it seems to me it’s becoming one of the next food cities.

Worst kitchen disaster — Right before I left New York, I had an [electric cooking device] on, and it just [suddenly] caught on fire. I had to blast the [crap] out of it with a fire extinguisher. We had to re-prep everything while we were cooking. It was a full-on blazing flame of glory. It wasn’t fun.

Biggest pet peeve in the kitchen — I think it’s when cooks don’t give 100 percent and cooks that are inconsistent. One day they do something really well, and then the other day, they’re half-retarded. And it comes a lot in people who aren’t really sure if they want to cook.

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Three people I’d never want to see in the kitchen
— Someone from the police department, someone from the fire department and somebody from the ambulance — unless they’re coming to work with us and help us out, obviously.

Strangest things cooked — When I was in Singapore, it was something called Bird’s Nest. It is the spit of a rare bird. They actually have to go up in caves to collect this spit. It’s considered a huge delicacy in a lot of Asia. It gets poached, and it almost looks like glass noodles. It was kind of slimy-textured. It’s extremely expensive. I guess if you don’t grow up with something or harvest it, I guess you don’t appreciate it as much as you should. It didn’t do anything for me.

Age — 27

Marital status — Single, girlfriend