James Van Dyk, exec chef of Lucky's Cafe, on the weird people who don't want eggs in their omelets
Most underrated ingredient: Soy sauce. There are some amazing small producers in Japan that are slowly being introduced in this country.
Food trend you wish would go away: All of them. I hate labels. All serious chefs are using fresh and locally sourced foods as well as international ingredients. Can't we move forward and away from trends? There is way too much talk about product and fads and not enough about technique.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: Matsutake mushrooms. If I told you where I got them, I'd have to kill you.
Favorite spice: Shichimi togarasi. It's a great finishing spice.
One food you detest: Natto. I have tried and tried to acquire a taste for it...always unsuccessfully.
One food you can't live without: Salt. When it's used responsibly, it really brings out the flavor in food. I tend to use molten sea salt more than anything else.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen: Be on time; no open-toed shoes; make sure your fingernails are clean (I check); put things back where you found them; taste and clean up as you go; concentrate on all of your surroundings rather than just the immediate job at hand and use all of your senses in the process. It's okay to make a mistake; just don't serve it. I run a tight ship in my kitchen -- like the military. I don't even like music in the kitchen anymore.
What's never in your kitchen? Natto, chatty people and people who aren't obsessed with and passionate about food. What else is there to talk about?
What's always in your kitchen? Immersion blenders, tilt kettle cookers, my sous-vide machine, French omelet pans, pepper mills and a wok.
Favorite dish on your menu: Our burger. Wayne, our master butcher at Lucky's Market, makes an amazing grind. I'm a sucker for a great burger, and I'm also a proponent of the patty being cooked on a griddle, hence keeping the flavor pure and maximizing the Maillard effect.
Biggest menu bomb: Our pot roast is not long for this world.