After a shift, what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat? “Philly cheesesteaks, but while I’m still in the kitchen it’s a big salad with olives, dandelion, arugula, Lolla Rossa Bibb lettuce, pecorino, pickled fennel, and sherry vinaigrette.”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “No. I’ve never been in that situation and doubt I ever will.”
All-time favorite spice. “Fennel seeds and garlic.”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “It’s a mix for sure, never an album and always bunch of different songs, including some reggae, Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, Guru, Prince and Vicente Fernández.”
Did you grow up cooking as a child? “Yes: Apple pies, pancakes, pizza, spaghetti and crabs, linguine and clams and salad. I had to make lots of salads and lots of fresh pasta.”
What cookbook is your go-to resource for inspiration? “It’s not a cookbook but I found Start the Fire by Jeremiah Tower very inspiring. That book made me proud to have worked in California for many years and also made me proud to have worked and travelled with Jonathan Waxman. Like-mindedness in the kitchen is a very assuring ingredient and instills confidence.”
After all these years working in restaurants, do you still enjoy going out to eat? “I do enjoy going out to eat, especially with other chefs. That’s my favorite, to see how we act and respond to others’ hospitality. Showing gratitude is rewarding.”
Is there one chef you’d like to cook with? “I love to cook with Jimmy Bradley and Jonathan Waxman. They’re the best.”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “Great Chefs on PBS back in the ’80s (when it first started).”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “Fingernail clippers.”
Joey Campanaro is the chef and owner of New York’s The Little Owl, Market Table, and The Clam.
Interview has been condensed and edited.