Round two with Jeremy Thomas, exec chef of Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar
What was the last cookbook you bought, and what recipes are you cooking from it? My boss and homeboy Sergio Romero got me Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery for Christmas, and we're applying some of those techniques to our charcuterie program. I'm also reading a book called Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food, which isn't a cookbook, but it has been very enlightening and educational. I recommend it to all chefs.
Best nugget of advice for a culinary-school graduate: There are so many things to tell them. Don't expect too much money; be willing to put in some long hours, because this is a lifestyle, not a job; and my favorite piece of advice is keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.
Craziest night in the kitchen: New Year's Eve 2011 at Willow Creek in Evergreen. We went with handwritten tickets, and the first half of the night was a disaster: We couldn't read the tickets, we had no abbreviations standardized, and the flow of customers coming in was pretty thick. But the second half went really smoothly. Last New Year's Eve at Le Grand was also pretty hairy. We did a three-course dinner for the first seating, four courses for the second seating, and five courses for the last seating, and by the time we got to the last seating, it was getting pretty difficult, but we soldiered on.
Biggest mistake a chef can make on the line: Not tasting your food. As the chef, you're the last line of defense before the customers put the food you make in their mouths. Taste everything.
Best recipe tip for a home cook: Use your instinct and common sense. If you're second-guessing what you're doing, it's likely you shouldn't do it. They say your first instinct is correct 90 percent of the time. I agree with that.
Which chef has most inspired you? Jacques Pépin is a total stud. He had cooking shows before anyone else did, he's the dean of the French Culinary Institute, and he's the foremost authority on French cuisine.
If you could have dinner with three chefs, dead or alive, whom would you choose? Paul Bocuse, because he's one of the greatest chefs ever; Jean-Georges Vongerichten, because his food is so cool, and he knows a thing or two about good restaurants; and Daniel Boulud, because he's a super-nice guy and an amazing chef.