BEHIND THE STOVE
10 Dishes With Chef Lucile Plaza
The executive chef of New York’s Le Coq Rico tackles our speed round of questions.
After a shift, what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat? “After a really late shift, I always go for something salty and, usually, something that isn’t the healthiest. I love a good hero sandwich with melty cheese. (Yum!)”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “Veal kidneys—I’ve never liked them, so it’s just something I would never cook.”
All-time favorite spice. “The spice I use the most is definitely piment d’espelette, which is a special paprika from the south of France. My other favorite is pimenton de la Vera, a Spanish smoked paprika. This one reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking, so it’s nostalgic for me.”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “I love to listen to Latin music in the kitchen. It always gives me energy and makes me want to dance!”
Did you grow up cooking as a child? “I always watched both my grandmothers cook when I was young, but I mostly just watched. I didn’t really start cooking until I started culinary school at age 15.”
What cookbook is your go-to resource for inspiration? “I don’t usually look to cookbooks as often for inspiration, but I’m obsessed with culinary magazines. I draw a lot of inspiration from Thuriès Gastronomie Magazine and Yam Magazine, which are both very famous in France.”
After all these years working in restaurants, do you still enjoy going out to eat? “Yes! I love to go out and enjoy different types of cuisines and service that I’m not as familiar with.”
Is there one chef you’d like to cook with? “This might be ambitious, but I would love to cook with Thomas Keller here in the U.S., and Éric Fréchon in France. I’m so inspired by their work.”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “Definitely Parts Unknown, it was such an amazing discovery of the world and culture through the lens of food.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “My two must haves anytime I travel for work is a good sharp chef’s knife and a paring knife.”
Lucile Plaza is the executive chef of New York’s Le Coq Rico.
Interview has been condensed and edited.