Duy Pham, exec chef of Epernay, on why he'll never cook in another chef's kitchen

Lori Midson

Duy Pham
1080 14th Street

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.

See also:
- Duy Pham, exec chef of Epernay, on being super-obsessed with gadgets
- 100 Favorite Dishes: lamb tartare from Epernay
- First Look: Epernay

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.

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