After a shift, what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat? “One of my favorite pleasures is a Grey Goose Martini served straight up, (no vermouth, three olives with pits!), a lobster roll and a slice of Black Forest layer cake.”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “Octopus, (any creature with nine brains and is therefore smarter than most politicians), is not for consumption.”
All-time favorite spice. “Cinnamon first, chili flakes second.”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “Miles Davis.”
Did you grow up cooking as a child? “My mother was a great home cook, eclectic and inspirational.”
What cookbook is your go-to resource for inspiration? “Elizabeth David’s compilation of her Mediterrean, French and Italian cookbooks.”
After all these years working in restaurants, do you still enjoy going out to eat? “Even more than as a young cook, I love seeing new dishes, cuisines and architecture.”
Is there one chef you’d like to cook with? “Frédy Girardet.”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “Any Bobby Flay show.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “Tennis racket.”
Jonathan Waxman is the author of A Great American Cook and Italian, My Way. This past spring, he closed his acclaimed New York restaurant Barbuto. He recently partnered with bartender A-K Hada and Grey Goose Vodka to make holiday dinner kits. For every meal sold, $20 is donated to Meals on Wheels America.
Interview has been condensed and edited.