After a shift, what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat? “My old go-to after a shift was an ice cream sundae. Nowadays, I make a sundae out of sheep’s milk yogurt, maple syrup, berries, almonds and whipped coconut milk. It’s the best.”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “When you start out, you cook what you are told to cook and how to cook it (and for good reason). Having an open mind leads to great discoveries, so there really isn’t anything I won’t try at least once.”
All-time favorite spice. “Mace. It will kick up your apple pie or put your fried chicken over the top.”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “At work, I prefer not to have the music on. I like the sounds of the kitchen and I like to hear what’s going on. At home, however, I listen to Iron Maiden or Slayer.”
Did you grow up cooking as a child? “I actually started cooking as a teenager after watching an infomercial about woks and I pestered my mom to go to Chinatown and get me one!”
What cookbook is your go-to resource for inspiration? “I have hundreds of books I look at, but most recently I have been drawn to diet books. (I need to keep my cholesterol low.) Books by Chris Kresser and Dr. Loren Cordain have caught my eye.”
After all these years working in restaurants, do you still enjoy going out to eat? “I don’t get to eat out as much as I would like, since I now have kids, but going out to dinner with my wife is my favorite thing to do. In a restaurant, I’m trying to learn something about food or service and there is no greater joy than being served a well-executed dish knowing all that went into it.”
Is there one chef you’d like to cook with? “Jean-Louis Palladin.”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “It’s a tie between the Galloping Gourmet and the Essence of Emeril.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “A Sharpie.”
Chris Shea is the executive chef at New York’s The Wayfarer.
Interview has been condensed and edited.