Today’s feature comes from Antonio Burrell, the chef de cuisine at newly opened Masa 14.
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Right now, it’s the wok. I absolutely love the versatility and just all around usefulness of the wok station at work. Need boiling water in 90 seconds? Done. Smoking some fish? No problem. Steam dumplings? Easy as can be.
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
Sous Vide cooking. I was happy to see it being used more often a few years ago but lately it’s being done poorly more often than not. If it’s not done right it just becomes a buzz word and not about what an amazing effect it can have on the food you’re cooking.
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
That’s a tough one. I’ve always cooked using the flavors I use now no matter what type of cuisine I was cooking at the time. Introducing Asian flavors into French or New American cuisines is something I’ve always done here and there. I wouldn’t say that the food would be extremely different but I would have to go with Asian influenced French. I’ve always loved the dedication to ingredients and technique that French food demands.
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Bev Eggelston of Emerald Family Farms. He heads up a fabulous breeding program for heritage breed pork. When you talk to the guy he just makes you care about pigs more than you could ever imagine. The guy just loves, LOVES what he does and his enthusiasim is infectious.
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
I love everything about every customer, but if it was one thing, it would be customers who automatically season their food with salt and/or pepper without ever having tasted it. The food arrives at their table, and you watch them, without ever breaking stride in their conversation, start to salt and pepper the food. How do they know it needs any seasoning? They never tasted it! Then sometimes you get those plates back because they’re too salty…….
What do you drink/eat after work?
Because I get out of the restaurant so late most days I usually just grab a bite to eat there. Just about every night it’s been the same. Tuna roll, crab wontons, fried rice and a shot of tequila
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
When I do get a day off to cook at home, I usually try to make something my wife and kids like. It’s either one of two things: Roast pork carnita tacos or Fried Chicken dinner with macaroni and cheese and biscuits. However, when my Mom and Dad are visiting and we’re all together, I always make my Gumbo. It is always a crowd pleaser and it makes great leftovers (if there are any).