Jay Leandro, exec chef of Pub 17 on Welton Street, on the Red Baron and fad diets
How do you describe your food? Comforting, simple, contrasting and approachable. It's definitely not food that you're afraid to look at and break apart.
Ten words to describe you: Sarcastic, loud, caring, demanding, funny, salty, adventurous, outdoorsy, confident, fisherman, goofy, playful father and loving husband.
What are your ingredient obsessions? Vinegar, salt and sugar. I like playing with contrasting flavors, and most of the dishes we come up with have some sort of sweet, salty and acidic component. My obsession with sweet and salty started when I was just a little kid. My vava (Portuguese for "grandmother") would bring me to McDonald's, and I always had to have a sip of cola with every bite of that Happy Meal. Memories. To this day, I can't eat pizza or burgers without soda in the house.
What are your kitchen-tool obsessions? Cutco shears and deep-fat fryers. Thank God I don't have one of those at home.
Favorite local ingredient and where you get it: I love Haystack Mountain goat cheese, particularly their chèvre. It has such a great, clean flavor.
One food you detest: White pepper is not allowed in my kitchen simply because it tastes like spicy cardboard and smells like cow manure.
One food you can't live without: Sriracha and frozen pizzas. Nope, I'm not ashamed to say that when I get home after cooking for fourteen hours, I don't really feel like cooking. The Red Baron never fails.
Best food trend of the year: So many places are putting more thought into their kids' menu and trying to get away from serving just chicken fingers and cheeseburgers, which is great. That's not to say that it's not okay to include one or two of those items -- some children are still very picky -- but it's encouraging to see more restaurants focusing on developing a child's palate and diversifying the kinds of foods they consume. Being the parent of a child who will eat pretty much anything -- except goat cheese -- it only makes sense that there should be just as much thought put into the kids' menu as any other menu. If you start them young enough, I truly believe that even a young child can enjoy diverse and complex flavors.