If any of you caught the most recent season of Top Chef Las Vegas, I’m sure you will agree with me that Ashley Merriman got voted off WAY TOO EARLY! I remember yelling at the television when Padma winced and said, “Ashley… please pack your knives and go.” WTF! I personally thought Ashley was one of the most talented chefs in the group, and I was bitter to see her get kicked off the show. Anyway, enough with my sour attitude and on to something very cool. Ashley has agreed to do a little Q&A for P&B and I’m more than freaking out because I’m a huge fan of hers. Thanks, Ashley!!!!
Hi Ashley. Being a chef (especially one who appeared on Top Chef) seems like such a high-pressure job at times. Can you tell our readers a little bit about the pros and cons of being in the restaurant business? – The pros: every day is an opportunity to get better, be creative and cook great food. The cons: terrible hours, bad pay, and no real life outside of work to speak of.
What are some of your personal favorite restaurants to dine at (they could be anywhere) and what dishes do you typically order at those restaurants? – In NYC: Franny’s, Casa Mono, Lombardi’s. In Seattle: Cafe Juanita, Tamarind Tree, Tilth, Sitka and Spruce. Elsewhere: Le Pigeon (Portland), AOC (LA).
What’s a typical day’s worth of food for you (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) – I don’t really eat a typical breakfast or lunch – my preference is something hot and spicy like a bowl of Pho or two tacos with lots and lots of hot sauce. For dinner I usually have family meal at the restaurant but often will go out after and try and have a little snack of something light – having a salad and two meatballs at Terroir in NYC is once of my favorite things to do.
What are three kitchen essentials a home cook should never be without? – A very sharp knife, a saute pan and a good cutting board.
What’s your favorite recipe that can always impress guests at a dinner party? – I don’t really have “go to” recipes that I use at dinner parties. I think each guest is different and every occasion is different – so I try and cook what is right for the moment and the party. That being said, making your own pasta shows a lot of care and thought.
Outside the kitchen, do you pursue any hobbies? – One of my biggest pursuits is finding the best food in any given city.
If you could cook for anyone in the world (anyone famous, dead or alive) who would it be? And if you could have anyone cook for you, who would that be? – If I could cook for anyone it would probably be the Rolling Stones. And I’d have my chef, Alex Guarnaschellli cook for me.