Round two with Joe Troupe, exec chef of Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House
Biggest compliment you've ever received: One of my cooks asked if he could write a school project about someone who influenced his life...me. I think it's really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day service, daily specials and next menu and forget that all of the people around us are cooking because they love it. It really made me reassess my priorities and realize what an opportunity we have to make a difference in people's lives -- not just somebody's evening.
One book that every chef should read: Culinary Artistry changed my life. A chef gave it to me for my 21st birthday, and while I didn't realize it at the time, it's a book that every chef should own. It simplifies much bigger concepts for someone who's just starting out, and it teaches the foundations of cooking in a don't-run-before-you-can-walk sort of way.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? My KitchenAid really reinvigorated my desire to cook at home. You have so many gadgets and tools in a commercial kitchen that it makes you a little lazy at home. But when I got my KitchenAid, I was like a kid in a candy store. I then got the ice cream maker, the sausage stuffer and the pasta rollers, and I've spent a ton of time at home perfecting pasta, which has really helped me out at work.
Best recipe tip for a home cook: Don't spend too much time focusing on the details of a recipe...unless you're baking, in which case disregard what I just said. Cooking is a lot more forgiving than people think. The most important thing as you follow a recipe is to taste your food every step of the way so you can gain an understanding of the ingredients and procedures.
Culinary heroes: My stepdad and all of my grandparents are pretty awesome cooks who really shaped my beliefs, but on a professional level, there are a few chefs who stand out: Thomas Keller has an amazing drive and commitment to all things food, and I love the way he elevates simple ingredients -- and he's done it all without a formal culinary education. I admire Ferran Adrià for the way he pushes the limits of everything, and David Chang is awesome for the way he shoves his beliefs and philosophies down the throat of anyone who will listen. I've never heard him hold back even a little bit.
If you could cook in another chef's kitchen, whose would it be? I would love to step into Alinea and work for Grant Achatz. He has such clear-cut and high expectations. I really admire his commitment, his passion and his drive to produce nothing but the best.
Favorite celebrity chef: David Chang fascinates me. His quest to do everything -- and do it better than everyone else -- is pretty awesome. I've never heard of anyone else being ambitious enough to go from a noodle bar through the gambit to fine dining and polish it off with a couple of pastry shops and a bad-ass magazine. The most amazing part is that nothing he does sucks.