Name a culinary mentor and explain what you learned from this person: Jean Banchet. I started working for Jean and his wife Doris when I first came to the United States in 1976. Jean taught me how to love working even harder that I already was!
The great thing about being a chef is: The customers and the amazing people I've had an opportunity to meet over the years.
The tough thing about being a chef is: The hours.
You always hear stories about chefs getting yelled at. Did that happen to you as a young chef?: I started my apprenticeship in L'Oustau de Baumaniere in Les Baux de Provence under the tutelage of founder Raymond Thulier. He was a stickler for perfection and would throw pots and pans at you if something didn't go right, something you would never get away with the U.S. I learned quickly to do it right!
Three don't-miss places to eat in Paris: My parents live in Nice in the south of France, so it's been a while since I've been to Paris. I would say Le Souffle Restaurant, and we always go to Berthillon for the Frais de Bois sorbet. But in Nice our favorite is La Merenda.
How has France's food scene changed? Are French chefs doing exciting things -- just as American chefs are here?: Yes, the food scene is constantly evolving in France. Many of the three-star restaurants in France have opened bistros or more casual restaurants as trends change.
Name a giant in the American food scene and explain why you admire this person: It would have to be Wolfgang Puck. Wolfgang and I started working together in Les Baux over 40 years and what he has been able to do in this country is remarkable.