GZ and Me: Interview with My Favorite Iron Chef

In celebration of food and National Blueberry Month, July 25 also marks National Culinarians/ Chefs Day!  This is an “unofficial” holiday but let’s still take a day to honor the chefs we admire for the delicious food they make. Culinarians range from home-cooks to chefs of  upscale restaurants; anyone can appreciate a well-crafted meal. I may not be a chef but appreciate those who cook well because I am definitely a foodie who spends plenty of time watching Food Network

One of my favorite chefs is Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian who appears plenty on the network I love. Geoffrey Zakarian, affectionately known as GZ, is a world renowned chef with multiple restaurants, a couple of cookbooks, and television shows. In celebration of National Culinarians Day, I wanted to feature GZ and what he has accomplished in his years as a chef.

According to geoffreyzakarian.com,  Zakarian began working in a professional kitchen in 1982 and in only five years’ time went from pastry sous to Chef de Cuisine under his mentor Alain Sailhac. Zakarian became Executive Chef at 21 Club in 1987 and several other Executive Chef positions before opening his own restaurant, Town, in 2001. His next restaurant, Country, opened its doors in 2005 and the third restaurant, The Lambs Club, in 2010.

Zakarian’s restaurants Town and Country boasts a three-star rating by the NY Times.   In addition to being a successful restaurateur, he has published two books for foodies to recreate recipes.  Zakarian is also a notable, fun TV personality on The Kitchen, judge on Chopped and winner of Iron Chef.

He is also a philanthropist in his efforts to decrease hunger in NYC. Last year, he assumed the role as chairman of the food rescue organization City Harvest.

Because I look up to him and his talents, I decided to e-mail his Marketing and Digital Media Manager. To my surprise, she quickly replied and GZ had answers to my questions in less than a day! I was so happy and impressed that my favorite chef cared enough to answer questions that others may have wondered on National Culinarians day.  Enjoy the questions!

CM: Since July is National Blueberry Month, what is your favorite savory and sweet dish using the berry?

GZ: I like to make blueberry pancakes for my children, using salted butter in which to fry the pancakes, reaching a nice balance between sweet and salty. For sweet, I love a classic berry crumble – using blueberries, blackberries and peaches, with a dollop of crème fraiche on top. 

CM:How do you get your inspiration for meals?

GZ: I open the refrigerator and simply see what I have. In the kitchen at work, we have to be so efficient using up every ingredient, and so I carry that philosophy over to my home life. I don’t like to waste anything.

CM:Who do you admire in the food world?

GZ: I really admire my mentor, Alain Sailhac. He taught me the craft of French cuisine.
CM: Favorite food to cook with? What is your favorite kitchen gadget or equipment?

GZ: Eggs – they’re so versatile, and are an incredibly important key ingredient in a variety of recipes from cocktails, to savory recipes to dessert. I love my Le Creuset Dutch oven – it’s so sturdy, and you can cook virtually anything in it. I also love it because it can go from the stove or oven to the table.

CM:What do you love about your job?

GZ: I love teaching others – both the professionals that work for me and home cooks.
CM: What is your best advice you would give for a home chef?

GZ: Don’t invest in a lot of fancy tools or pans – you just need very sharp knives and a few good quality pans. Put the money you save toward taking a class and learning skills.

Whoever your culinarian is in your life, be sure to show appreciation for their delicious meals today and every day! Thank you again Geoffrey Zakarian for answering my questions too!

Originally featured on Real Deals Magazine web site.