Chef News

Chrysa Robertson Dishes on Male Chefs, How She Handled a Customer Complaint and Why She's Not Really Arizona's Alice Waters

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The most embarrassing thing you ever did as a chef: Okay, I SHOULD be embarrassed by this, but I am actually proud. Years ago, a creepy old man sent back his soup twice, claiming it wasn't hot enough. Well, I was the one heating the soup, and I KNEW it was plenty hot. So the third time I put the empty bowl in the 500-degree convection oven to "warm", heated the soup in a pot until it was sputtering, and then I put his soup spoon in the burner flame to heat it. When I poured the soup into the incinerator-hot bowl, it literally boiled up. I then set the bowl and red hot spoon onto an under-liner, handed it to the runner, and voila! The lovely gentleman howled and threw his spoon across the table, yelling, "She's trying to kill me!" Sick? I think not.

Name a giant in the American food scene and explain why you admire this person: Mario Batali. I love the way he explains the cooking process, the history of a dish, etc. and he always seems to be having fun.

Name a culinary mentor and explain what you learned from that person: Nancy Silverton. I've never met a harder working woman. A task master and perfectionist, she made me aware that as a chef/owner, even if you have to be ready to do everything at any moment and all by yourself, you should never lower your standards.

What's your guiding principle about cooking?: Enhance flavors rather than manipulate them.

Name two local dishes you love to eat: That octopus situation at Davanti (but only when Chef Peter is in the kitchen) and the Clare Burrito at Restaurant Mexico. Who would you most like to cook for?: Colman Andrews and Ruth Reichl.

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Nikki Buchanan