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During Season 3 of The Next Iron Chef, I probably gave Chef Forgione more grief than both of the other judges combined did and called him out a number of times for various reasons.
Despite that, he managed to make it all the way to the finale, where his superb take on a Thanksgiving dinner made him my clear winner. Since then, Iron Chef Forgione has gone on to prove himself a very worthy addition to the culinary pantheon.
Here are 10 questions and answers that will hopefully give you more insight into the youngest of their order.
Your father, Larry Forgione, is often called “The Godfather of American Cuisine.” Was coming from a family of such astonishing culinary provenance a help or a hindrance as you climbed the ladder?
MF: A little bit of both. I think it definitely helped open doors for me, but at the same time everything I did was a lot more closely watched. There’s nothing worse than getting yelled at by a chef and then having them say to me, “Do you think your father would be happy with that?”
You bring influences to your cooking from many parts of the world. How would you describe your cuisine?
MF: I would explain my cuisine just like the beautiful city of New York where I live: a melting pot of cultures, ideas and philosophies.
You are hard at work in your restaurant kitchen most nights of the week. Do you think it’s important that customers see the chef in a restaurant that carries his or her name?
MF: I think every chef’s situation is different. I do everything in my power to be at my namesake as much as I can, however, if you have the right team behind you, they should be able to perform as if you are there.
What is the single best piece of advice that anyone has ever given you about your culinary career?
MF: Good question — I don’t think anyone has ever asked me this, actually. I think it was probably from my mother, when I was just starting out my culinary career, and she told me to make sure that I really love it.
At which point during your season of The Next Iron Chef did you really begin to think, “I could win this”?
MF: Haha. Believe it or not, from the beginning I thought there was a conspiracy for Ming Tsai to win. So as soon as he was off the show, I really realized that it was anyone’s game.
What would be the most disappointing thing a customer could ever say to you about your restaurant?
MF: That they didn’t have a good time
Have you ever put a dish in front of the judges on Iron Chef America that you knew was lousy, but you got away with it?
MF: No. There have been a couple times when I’ve put forth dishes that I wasn’t 100 percent behind, and both times it didn’t work out well for me.
How old do you think you’ll be before you look in the mirror and say, “That Mohawk has got to go”?
MF: Funny, I was actually thinking about shaving it off yesterday.
If you were only allowed to cook the food of one nation, which would it be?
What would be your three desert island ingredients?
MF: Free-range chicken, Mangalitsa bacon and jalapenos