One-on-One with Geoffrey Zakarian from The Kitchen

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, January 6th, 2014

The KitchenYou know GeoffreyJeffKatieMarcela and Sunny from their other adventures on Food Network and FoodNetwork.com, but for the first time last Saturday, you watched them come together on their brand-new series, The Kitchen (airing Saturdays at 11am/10c). Katie and Geoffrey cooked alongside each other, Sunny showed off her version of crepes, and the group dished about the latest trends and topics in everyone’s favorite room of the house: the kitchen. Before the season gets too far underway, however, FN Dish wants fans to get to know each of the co-hosts a bit better, so we’ll be sharing exclusive interviews with all five chefs every day this week. Read on below to learn more about Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian today, and keep checking back to hear from Jeff, Katie, Marcela and Sunny.

Tell us your culinary point of view in the kitchen in a few sentences.
Geoffrey Zakarian: Classically rooted with a modern edge

Why did you want to get involved in The Kitchen?
GZ: I just love working with Food Network, but I love the composition of the show, and that we talk about all kinds of things …. The kitchen is where everything happens, basically.

How is The Kitchen different than the other shows on Food Network?
GZ: This is really a collaborative show. Reality shows pit judges against chefs, and they pit teams against other teams, but they don’t have four, five people actually discussing one subject. You can really have facts come up when five pretty knowledgeable people get around a table.

What will you bring to The Kitchen? What’s your perspective?
GZ: Just be myself, and I want to have some fun, and I want to, like, debunk a lot of wives’ tales. I love my co-hosts. I’ve known them all, and I think that we each have a unique perspective, and I’m just going to bring myself to the show.

Do you ever use recipes when you cook something new, or do you just wing it? And if you do use recipes, what kinds of dishes are they for? What are you looking up?
GZ: I can wing anything, but when someone has written a recipe that I respect and it’s a really good chef, I usually try to stay pretty close to what they try, simply because I’m actually sometimes curious to see whether the recipe works, or sometimes curious to see what the outcome of it would be, seasoning-wise. It’s very difficult to cook a recipe and have it come out perfect …. Once I read something over and I say that’s the recipe, I might put it aside and just add a little bit, but I pretty much try to stick to what it is.

What’s your go-to cookbook?
GZ: I have, like, half a dozen, at least. I think Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution is great. As far as cooking for the family … all the Barefoot Contessa books are great ’cause they’re very simple and they don’t confront the person; they just bring them in.

Who’s the one Food Network talent you’d most like to face off against in a friendly cook-off?
GZ: I’ve actually never cooked off against Bobby Flay. I would like to. I would like to cook Italian versus [Mario] Batali.

We know you’re a master mixologist, both in Kitchen Stadium and out. What are the requirements for a perfect cocktail?
GZ: You have to have great ingredients. It’s just like cooking …. It’s no more than following a recipe, and I think that, more so than in cooking, you can wing a cocktail when you’re first trying one — if you’re trying different stuff. But once you want to make it consistently every time, you need a recipe. So you need to be able to jigger pour.

What should people know about pairing wine with food? Is there such a thing as a good or bad pair, or is it all up to personal taste?
GZ: It’s really up to personal taste. There are pairings that would probably not work as well as others. However, there is so much knowledge right now about, like, what’s good. And anybody in a wine section of your wine store would be able to tell if you if you’re cooking x, y and z, what would be a good white wine to pair with it. And I think that if you drink a lot of wine, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. And if you’re going to make a mistake, you get to drink your mistake.

How do you balance being an Iron Chef, being a Chopped judge, being a co-host of The Kitchen and running multiple restaurants, among your other responsibilities?
GZ: I’m a big believer in a great team. Fortunately my wife and I work together, so she takes a big chunk of [my] stuff, or watches over it, and I have a great staff at my restaurants. I really depend on them and rely on them. And it helps that all of my business is in New York City. I don’t have restaurants all over the place. The day I have a restaurant in, like, a far foreign place, it will be when everything else is so solid.

Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? All three, together, on a hamburger
Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla
Bagels or doughnuts? Neither
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Coffee or tea? Coffee
French fries or onion rings? French fries
Burgers or hot dogs? Burgers
White meat or dark? Dark
Cake or pie? Pie
Beer or wine? Wine

Tune in to The Kitchen every Saturday at 11am/10c.

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Comments (21)

  1. EddyL says:

    Does this KITCHEN show stink or what? Five people trying to talk over each other, phony to the nth degree, and LOUD.

    CANCEL THIS CLUNKER.

  2. Rosemary Buchanan says:

    "The Kitchen" is a sad attempt at a new show. I would rather watch shows that actually one is able to lean from
    not some "chefs" trying to make a show work. I think your viewers are smarter than this show !

  3. shannon says:

    The Kitchen seems to be a blatant attempt to create the magic of The Chew on Food NEtwork.

  4. Elizabeth Muncy says:

    What a sorry show! Too many people ,all talking I'd suggest you get one person with neat recipes etc. I'm not wanting to see somebody sipping a drink even if it is after 4. Not watching a seconds time.

  5. Mark says:

    More cooking. Less talk show.

  6. char says:

    i loved! the show!! much better than the chew. if you think that they were talking over each other, you should watch the chew. i hope it stays on. it was good choice of chefs too.

  7. jenxrus says:

    Come on Geoffrey……..you are an Iron Chef!!!

  8. Susan says:

    have to watch more than one episode to form an opinion. liked the cooking, not the talking over each other. Good ideas.

  9. robin says:

    I watched the second show today and it was better than the first one. The first one had too much talking over each other.

  10. CSD says:

    Sorry but this is not a show I would watch again. Are they trying to be the CHEW/ If so they have failed miserably and should end now. All the mugging at the camera was so annoying as ws talking over each other and trying way too hard to be witty. Give it up!

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