Shaun Motoda, chef of TAG|RAW BAR, on the perfect bite and his obsession with Taco Bell
Best nugget of advice for a culinary-school graduate: I would probably tell them that they paid too much for their education. There's a lot to be said about a formal culinary education, but there's no replacement for experience. I'd take a person with a few years of kitchen experience under his/her belt over a new culinary-school grad any day.
Describe the biggest challenges facing today's chefs: Product pricing is always fluctuating, and it's a full-time job to keep up with costs, especially with fresh fish.
If you could have dinner with three chefs, dead or alive, whom would you choose? Grant Achatz, because of his molecular expertise. I know a lot of people are doing it these days, but he's the best in my opinion. I'm totally intrigued by the whole approach. I'd also want to have dinner with Thomas Keller because, well, he's Thomas Keller. So many of the techniques I've learned over the years were gleaned from chefs who have worked in his kitchens. And last but not least, Jiro Ono, because I love traditional sushi. I'd love to talk basics with him. I have this daydream where he tells me all of his secrets.
If you hadn't become a chef, what would you be doing right now? I always thought I'd be an architect of either buildings or landscapes. I love art, but I wasn't great at math, so when I decided to pursue something different, I combined my love of art and building and applied them to creating beautiful dishes and plates.
What's in the pipeline? I'm really excited about the launch of our RAW U sushi-making classes starting on March 16. After that, we'll host them at TAG|RAW the second Saturday of each month.