Round two with Patxi Azpiroz, exec chef of Patxi's Pizza
Best recipe tip for a home cook: "Mistakes are the portals of discovery." I love this quote by James Joyce. It's one that I've carried with me since my years in college, and it rings true over and over again. I can't tell you how many recipes on our menu today have come from accidentally doing something "wrong" in a recipe, or taking a risk and trying flavor combinations that I thought maybe wouldn't work but did.
What's your biggest pet peeve? Messy kitchens and people who don't clean as they work.
Describe the biggest challenges facing today's chefs: Climate conditions and changes scare me the most, and I think they pose some of the greatest challenges for chefs today and will continue to do so in the future. Procuring ingredients will become more difficult and more expensive with time if things don't change. With that said, these same conditions will also challenge chefs to be even more creative, by finding alternative ingredients and techniques.
Which chef has most inspired you? My aunt Margie. Some of my earliest memories of food and cooking are of her measuring with her hands, using handfuls and pinches of seasonings and tasting as she went along. She grew her own vegetables, raised animals, made sausages and incredible pastries. She came from the old country, and I don't think she had a written recipe in the house. It was a great way to gain an appreciation for food, ingredients and history.
Which three chefs, dead or alive, would you most like to have dinner with? Jacques Pépin, Alice Waters and Thomas Keller are arguably the chefs that have had the most influence on the culinary style in the United States, and I'd love to have dinner with all of them. Can you imagine? They've turned us on to flavors and ingredients that have helped develop our palates by introducing us to ideas and ingredients most people hadn't even heard of as recently as ten or twenty years ago. Plus, have you ever seen Jacques Pépin cut an apple? YouTube it if you haven't -- it's a revelation.
If you could cook in another chef's kitchen, whose would it be? Thomas Keller. He's so meticulous about his kitchen; it would probably be like being a kid in a candy shop -- an OCD kid in an OCD candy shop, so it would be awesome.
Most humbling moment as a chef: The opening night of our first restaurant really opened my eyes as to how important it is to surround yourself with great, talented, passionate people. It also taught me to always give 100 percent to what you believe is of utmost importance.