Name a place you've eaten in the past year that blew your mind: I love Roberta's in Brooklyn. Carlo Mirarchi does a great job mixing herbs, seeds, and fats with vegetables.
You earned the nickname "veggie whisperer." What's the deal with you and vegetables?: I don't know about "earned." Vegetables have always been the ugly ducklings of the American diet. I've obviously taken my eating habits on a healthier path. Making veggies exciting for others makes me happy.
How important are your relationships with local farmers/ranchers/food artisans?: They're vital. Without them, I'm nothing.
The best thing about being a restaurant owner is: Autonomy.
The hardest thing about being a restaurant owner is: Not being there while it's open. That's why I'm always there.
You've had men and women in your kitchen. Any obvious differences? Or are they exactly the same?: It's not the same. I will say that women cook and work harder without ego-driven self-congratulation. Women don't feel the need for the "Yes, Chef" answer back from a fellow cook.