Duy Pham, exec chef of Epernay, on why he'll never cook in another chef's kitchen
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This is part two of my interview with Duy Pham, exec chef of Epernay; part one of our chat ran yesterday.
What's the best food- or kitchen-related gift you've been given? I have three. The first is when Corky Douglass, the owner of Tante Louise, sponsored my trip to Napa Valley and San Francisco to study under Jean-Louis Palladin; second is when one of my cooks, Seiji Nakatani, gave me a hand-crafted Japanese knife that he designed, which, I have to admit, I'm kind of scared to use; and third is when my pastry chef, Adriene Laurer, gave me a French terrine mold, which I still cherish to this day.
What's your fantasy splurge? Go to Japan and eat at Sukiyabashi Jiro's place; I'd indulge in so much Kobe beef that my tummy would explode.
What was the last cookbook you bought, and what recipes are you cooking from it? I have a subscription to Art Culinaire, but I don't get recipes from cookbooks. I like to experiment and develop my own recipes, because it helps me to be more creative. That said, I do love looking at pictures; they inspire me to create new dishes.
What recent innovation has most influenced the restaurant industry in a significant way? The wealth of information available on the Internet has certainly made a big difference in how we learn about cooking and food; it's so easy to see what other chefs around the world are doing, and at the touch of a button, you can learn anything -- and everything -- you've ever wanted to know about food.
Best tip for a home cook: Cook with your heart and don't take it too seriously; just have fun.
What's your biggest pet peeve? Non-edible garnishes and food that's overly salty or overly sweet.
Describe the challenges facing today's chefs: The prices of food are going up every single year, so it makes it harder to get special ingredients without paying a premium price.
What piece of advice would you give to a young chef? If you're going to work in this industry, make sure it's because you have passion and not a lust for money, because if you do it for money, you're in the wrong industry.