One of the very great pleasures of the last few years has been getting to know Geoffrey Zakarian better, both personally and professionally.
While we may disagree a lot on the show, I have always been hugely impressed with his culinary talents and can now state, for a fact, there is no more-entertaining person on the planet with whom to break bread off set.
As Iron Chef Zakarian prepares for another season of battles in Kitchen Stadium, I caught up with him (over a martini, of course) and demanded responses to these 10 probing questions.
You have two Iron Chef nicknames: “Princess” and “Darth Zakarian.” Which, if either, do you think is most accurate?
Well, I do have a reputation as being extremely fastidious about skin care! So “Princess” ain’t that far off.
What do you think is the worst trend in modern cuisine?
Foams are over, finally. Now if we can just figure out how get chefs to start cooking for customers instead of their egos.
You are one of the older Iron Chefs. Does that experience help you when you are in Kitchen Stadium?
Definitely. I have a larger larder of knowledge from which to pull from, and I am also not afraid to fail. Both traits help me immensely
I don’t think I have ever seen a chef who is quite as calm as you in the kitchen. Where does that come from?
I certainly do not feel calm. I find a way to stay even-keeled, and that is what I think you might notice, but inside I am burning and churning.
Who was your culinary mentor?
Alain Siahlac from Le Cirque — he taught me how to cook just about everything.
The cookery police are going to raid your house and take all of your books. They allow you to save one. Which would it be?
Le Repertoire de la Cuisine
Have you always refused to play by the rules, and has it ever got you into trouble?
I never met a rule I ever liked, so I just don’t pay that much attention to them.
What has been the biggest disaster you have encountered in Kitchen Stadium?
I am still young to the Iron Chef catalog of disasters, but I did pretty much screw up trying to open a champagne bottle with a knife on national TV.
How do you take your martini?
Thanks to you, very cold, with a twist of lemon
Name one chef in the U.S. that we should be looking out for as a potential future Iron Chef.
My chef at The Lamb’s Club, Eric Haugen. His poise is remarkable.