By Kris Kitto - 10/06/10 10:08 PM EDT
Previous culinary experience — I went to the Culinary Institute of America, graduated in ’96, and I spent about nine months abroad in Paris and Toulouse, France. I worked at some Michelin-rated restaurants in Toulouse. I’ve been an executive chef of six restaurants now in the last 12 years. I was a chef-owner of a restaurant in Nashville, Tenn., called Radius 10. We were open four years, and we were named best restaurant in Nashville. But the economy took its toll [and the restaurant closed].
When I’m not eating my own food — I like to make food for me and my family. I always do a Sunday night supper club since we both work full-time. A couple times a month, we’ll go out on a date. I’ve enjoyed the Blue Duck Tavern here, and BLT Steak since it’s right around the corner from P.J. Clarke’s.
Born and raised — I was born in Long Beach, Calif., but I was really raised in Boulder, Colo.
Food I cannot stand — Orange roughy [a type of fish]. I will eat just about anything. That’s the only thing I can always say, if I ever hear that word, it makes me cringe.
Greatest cooking influence — Southern Coastal. I’m rooted in the French technique, but my greatest expressions of food are usually Southern Coastal in nature. People there are not afraid to eat. There’s something to be said for that.
For food from all over the South, I just love taking those old concepts and throwing a fresh twist on them.
Views on cooking TV shows — I gave up on the Food Network a long time ago. “Iron Chef” is cool. I was actually slated to be on “Iron Chef” before we closed the restaurant [in Nashville], but we closed a couple of months earlier.
Strangest cuisine I’ve tried — The armadillo I ate in Latin America was one of the oddest things I’ve eaten.
Must-have cooking utensil — A mortar and pestle is what I need to have.
Thoughts on Washington’s food scene — Strong. Real good diversification. There’s a lot of variety with different levels. I love the Mid-Atlantic ingredient base, and I just want to keep exploring.
Worst kitchen disaster — Power outage at 8:30 on a Saturday night is pretty bad. That happened two weeks after 9/11. Everybody thought there was a terrorist attack in northern Florida, where I was working at the time. Everybody started singing the national anthem. It was weird.
Biggest pet peeve in the kitchen — People taking the lids off the Tabasco bottles. There’s that little thing that makes it squirt — when they remove that thing, the sauce comes dumping out without you knowing it. Someone did that the other day.
One person you’d like to cook with — Charlie Palmer.
Strangest things cooked — Shad roe. Shad is a fish in the Hudson Valley, and the roe from the fish looks like a big liver. So you cook it in bacon and onions. You cook it in a really homey way. It’s actually dense once it’s cooked — it’s like ground beef but smoother — almost like a coarse paté. It’s really good.
Age — 35
Marital status — Married, with a 15-month-old.