Chef News

Justin Beckett of Beckett's Table, Part Two

Yesterday, we heard from Chef Justin Beckett of Beckett's Table on growing up vegetarian, culinary school, and a thoughtful but disastrous chicken soup incident. Today, Beckett dishes on the continuing bacon trend and what he does in his free time (when there actually is any).

Where will we find you when you're not at Beckett's Table? Asleep! This restaurant has consumed the four partners, so we spend a lot of time here.

Best laid back plans: I haven't taken time off in a while. But I just started making vacation plans for December 2013. The idea is to go back to Fiji for a friend's 40th birthday, so there will be a group of us.

So you don't think the world will end in 2012? No, I don't believe that. Once that becomes official, I would like a week or two's notice so that I can stop working so hard.

Ingredients for disaster: I can't stand bananas. I'm allergic to peanuts; we don't have peanuts or peanut oil in the building.

Has the bacon craze jumped the shark? I'm the wrong guy to ask, because I'm stuck in it. I don't think we have. One of our bestselling desserts here is the chocolate-dipped bacon s'mores. My love of pig is predominant on the menu. There are a couple of smells in the world that are awesome, and bacon is one of them.

Other scentsory delights: Fresh bread, meatloaf coming out of the oven. Fresh herbs, the aroma of roasted garlic, really fresh seafood.

Cooking tool you can't live without: A cast iron skillet. It sears amazingly; you get this nice, crisp outside on everything. You can heat up hot cocoa in the morning and then roast pork chile. It's good for everything, except maybe very delicate things like white wine sauce.

Veggie love: For me, it's like a double-star when I come up with a great vegetarian or vegan dish. It's challenging for people who don't do it often. But I'm impressed at how easy it is to create great flavors without meat proteins.

Challenging customers: I used to think that guests who came in and changed menu items were wrong, but now I'm like, 'they're paying the
bills and they should get what they want.' Same with people saying they're vegetarian, gluten-free, or have allergies. Now I consider it a challenge.

Tender advice: The culinary industry is one that leans towards self-destruction. There's definitely self-loathing, pain, debauchery. If you can stay clear of that and stay focused, you can do very cool things.

A sappy secret: We try to do a whole lot of nothing on Mondays, when the restaurant is closed. I hang out with my kids. I go hiking; I like to watch movies. I've even been known to watch a sappy love story or two. Love Actually was a good one.

I realize I like being taken from reality. For two hours I don't have to do anything else.

Tune in tomorrow for a delicious vegetarian summer salad recipe from Chef Justin Beckett.

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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden

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