Favorite thing to eat growing up: My mom's roasted pork with crispy potatoes and applesauce.
Favorite thing to eat now: Combination of prosciutto, Fontina, apples, dates, pomegranate seeds, hazelnuts and arugula. My chefs call it "garbage salad."
The most fun I've ever had in the kitchen was when: We did a benefit dinner at Rancho a few years ago with a couple of great chefs I used to work for. We had rigged up a rotisserie out on the sidewalk to cook whole ducks. It involved a tire jack stand, a motor with a bicycle chain and several sheet pans filled with blazing mesquite charcoal. The best part was parading the cooked ducks through the dining room on a 12-foot skewer!
You raise chickens and do a bit of gardening. Is this for practicality or . . . ?: If I weren't a chef, I would be a landscaper. Or a cowgirl. I LOVE working outside. The hens started as a hobby, and we have since expanded the coop three times. There is nothing like a fresh egg! I use them at Rancho for pasta, ice cream, desserts, salads, etc. The "ladies" (48 of them at last count) eat most of the scraps from the restaurant, and anything else left over goes into the compost for the herb garden and the rest of the "compound". I consider the ladies dream employees, although by the time we buy the extra feed, each egg ends up costing about a buck.