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2012: The Year in Eater Interviews

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Over the course of 2012, chefs, sommeliers, writers, and personalities from all over the world either got on the phone, pulled up chairs in their dining rooms, or met up at bars to spend a few minutes — occasionally a few hours — to conduct interviews. Eater is grateful for that. These are some of the more memorable excerpts, including Amanda Cohen talking about bad questions from journalists, Mario Batali's discussion on elevating the art of saying "no," Noma's Pontus Elofsson explaining why the restaurant doesn't carry Bordeaux, and Anthony Bourdain describing how book tours and doing press can make you plumb the depths of self-loathing. The full selection:

[Photo: Gabe Ulla /]

Anthony Bourdain on Self-Loathing

The book tour is where this comes in... It's when you find yourself answering the questions the same way that you hate yourself. You understand why stand-up comics kill themselves either quickly or slowly. There's something destructive about getting good at that. Read more >>>

Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy, New York. [Photo: Krieger]

Amanda Cohen on Bad Questions

My favorite moment is when an interviewer asks, 'Well, what's in your fridge?' And you're like really? Do you care? Does it really matter what's in my fridge? And I think everyone plays into it. People will say we're going to come take pictures of your fridge, and I'm like oh, okay, I better go home and clean it. And I know I'm not the only chef who's done that. Read more >>>


José Andrés on Exclusivity

In America people are used to I want it now I get it now. That's not sustainable. Now you have to be patient to get to things that are worth it. Like a relationship, this is the girl you want to marry. You have to work for it! Restaurants are the same thing. 60 people per day, four days a week only. Read more >>>

[Photo: Daniel Krieger]

Jim Meehan on the Scholarly Qualities of Cocktail Books

I think in general why cocktail books tend to have this sort of scholarly aspect to them is that large swaths of the history of mixed drinks are missing. You know, the history of bars was written and came to be in places filled with people drinking. So a lot of our history is mostly oral, it's an oral tradition along with the written tradition...For those of us who are passionate about origins, it's vital to document, cite, and credit.Read more >>>

canlis-roundup.jpg[Photo: Facebook]

Mark Canlis on Restaurants That Can't Be For Everybody

I don't buy it. I was at elBulli with my grandfather, who has spent his whole life in Pensacola, Florida, and my family. We're way into the meal, and they bring out this far-out fish dish. Grandpa asks, totally seriously, for a couple of slices of lemon, and he has every intention to use his 39-year marine hands to decimate this thing; lemon is a 9 on the acidic scale. Meanwhile, we're all 'Oh, jeez' and ready to backpedal him. After not really understanding what he wanted at first, since my grandpa asked in English, the server comes back with a couple of slices of lemon and says, 'We are but learners here.' Read More >>>

eater-interviews-christian-puglisi-december-part-one.jpg [Photo: Per-Anders Jorgensen]

Christian Puglisi on There Being More to Life

Certain people have this idea that it's a hardcore lifestyle, brotherhood, and that you should work and grind at it all the time. It's the idea that cooking is all you have. For me, there are more things in life. I think it makes the restaurant better. If, in soccer, you play more than two games a week, you are going to start to suck. It's not just that your body needs to be in the kitchen. Your mind needs to be there, as well. Read more >>>

David McMillan and Frédéric Morin at Joe Beef [Photo:Talia Baiocchi]

The Joe Beef Guys on OCD Restaurants

You know when you go to a restaurant and you have to have a speech about every course or the coffee, there's some guy in the kitchen that wants the server to do that. That's obsessive-compulsive disorder. Where the fuck are we going? All I want to do in a restaurant — and we said this in the book — I want to drink wine and tell you how hard I am going to fuck you later, to my wife. Read more >>>

[Photo: Beinta av Kák Bech]

Pontus Elofsson on Why Noma Doesn't Carry Bordeaux

There are three main reasons. The most important is that it does not match the food at Noma... The second reason is more ideological. Bordeaux is probably the biggest chemical factory in Europe... The third reason: I really don't like the taste of Bordeaux. Read more >>>

[Photo: Nick Scott]

Momofuku Seiobo's Ben Greeno on Serving Pork Buns

Originally we didn't want to and then we were working on snacks and thought, 'OK, fuck it, let's do it.' If we're going to do it, we're going to do it well. It's easier to do it than spend your whole night explaining why you don't do it. Read more >>>

[Photo: Isabelle Clément]

Sommelier François Chartier on Subjectivity and Science

I completely disagree with people who say, 'Drink what you love.' This is completely crazy for me. Matching wine and food is not subjective. If I told you tabouleh is really good with sauvignon blanc and you say, okay, but I don't like mint, that's the subjective part. But if I say, this is good together it's proved by science, it's not subjective. Read more >>>

[Photo: Noma]

Noma's Rosio Sanchez on Not Carrying Cultural Baggage

When I first came here and tasted things like sea buckthorn or different berries I had never had, it was great. I have those experiences here constantly. You get this rush of ideas for what to do with it, since you don't have any idea what it is or have a familiarity with it in your background. Read more >>>


Drew Nieporent on Please Give Me My Damn Drink

In New York, what's going on? My whole thing is I just would like to get a drink that I want. You go to a place, and go, what is that, it looks like a piña colada, but not really. It's got coconut milk in it. And then you get it, and it tastes exactly like a piña colada. And they only make two at a time, and there's forty people waiting behind you at the bar. Read more >>>

[Photos: Gizmodo/Vimeo]

Wylie Dufresne on Not Being Fully Embraced

I think it's because New Yorkers are used to getting exactly what they want, and I don't think you always get exactly what you want here. There's flexibility and there's give, but like I said, you can't come here and say, 'I want a salad, some steamed veggies, and I've got to be out of here in 45 minutes.' I'm getting better at finding that middle ground. Read more >>>

[Photo: Daniel Krieger]

Mario Batali on the Art of Saying "No"

[At Babbo] I elevated the practice of saying 'no' in a field where almost everybody said 'yes.' It wasn't to be capricious or cool or standoffish or whimsical or try to divide ourselves, but rather to say that we spent a whole mess of time curating the lighting, the plating, the food — every aspect of this experience — so that when you tell us that you want to change this or that when you come in, we tell you that we really don't want to do that. Read more >>>

Hedy Goldsmith. [Photo: Hedy Goldsmith / Facebook]

Hedy Goldsmith on Inspiration from Mixologists

In my mind it makes perfect sense: there's quite a bit of alcohol used in what I do on a daily basis. I just love the way the flavors play together in the sandbox. A great bourbon paired together with a wonderful chocolate, pecan and maple: that to me makes perfect sense. Read more >>>

[Photo: Francesco Tonelli]

EMP's Dustin Wilson on How Sommeliers Innovate

You can't just say, 'I don't like these flavors anymore,' and clean the slate and develop five new dishes. You have to instead ask yourself: How can I evolve service and the types of tools we use? How can I evolve the pairings and the types of wines we serve? Read more >>>

[Photo: Leanna Creel/Creel Films]

Christopher Kostow on Deliciousness vs Storytelling

I'm always both. I don't know if it's possible, but I want to blow you away dish-by-dish. With what you're paying, you deserve brilliance in every bite. Period. I think you can still tell a consistent narrative and have every dish blow you away. Chefs can sometimes hate or have the tendency to ask, 'Is it A) or is it B)?' Read More >>>


David Kinch on Sous Vide's Flaws

It gives you that luxurious texture. It effects a sort of sameness in things like meats. Sure, there are some differences, but it really does affect the textural integrity of the product. Yeah, in sous vide you can cook them at different temperatures and blah blah blah, but what you end up having is a product that's lost its integrity. Read More >>>

[Photo: Food Snob]

Magnus Nilsson on the Term "New Nordic"

I don't think it really exists. I think people made that up to have a label to easily categorize what is going on in Scandinavia at the moment... It feels a little bit blunt to talk about all of these restaurants that are doing their own thing under one label. It's almost as blunt as saying 'Central European cooking' and talking about elBulli and Michel Bras as part of the same movement. Read More >>>

[Photo: Travel Channel]

Andrew Zimmern on His Goals

My show, and the point of a lot of my writing in this book, is to try to introduce the idea to people that our narrow view of what food is can hurt us. I don't think that people will run out and start eating wildebeest. It would be almost impossible. But if we can be more curious about it, maybe we'll eat more little fish with the heads on, goat once a week, we'll go vegetarian once a week, and we can start to actually start to make a difference in our world one plate at a time. Read more >>>

[Photo: Gabe Ulla / Eater]

Andoni Luis Aduriz on Deliciousness

We can talk about what's hidden behind the phrases 'This is good' or 'This tastes good.' There are people that can't start their day without a cup of coffee. OK, but is that because it's delicious or because it's pleasant? These are the toxic seeds of a plant, which we then burn! It's bitter, intense, and appreciated because of cultural habit and acclimation. It's learned. In other words, things are, and then you decode them. Read More >>>

[Photo: Daniel Krieger]

Jay Rayner on Preciousness in Food

Preciousness around food makes me twitch slightly. I think I've said before that if there is a phrase that bothers me, it's 'I cooked this for you with love.' If I wanted a blowjob, I'd call my wife. If I want dinner, I'll go to a chef with technique and style. What do you mean you cooked something for me with love? You don't love me. Are you going to have congress with those ingredients? Please don't bandy around this emotional incontinence as a replacement for technique, good skill, and good taste. Read More >>>

[Photo: Christian Seel]

Dave Beran on Cutting It at Alinea

Whenever I'd sit down with an applicant, I'd tell them that this wasn't that magical place on the mountain that everyone thinks it is. Some people have this notion that we have this glamorous life where we sit around the table and talk about ideas and brainstorm. It's not like that. It's really, really hard work. A lot of people hope to get to that point, but they underestimate what it takes to get there. Read More >>>

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[Photo: The Catbird Seat]

Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson on John Mariani

There's nothing we can do differently [for critics], honestly. Except if John Mariani comes in, because that guy can suck a dick. Read More >>>

[Photo: Eric Wolfinger]

Benu Wine Director Yoon Ha on Having a Breakdown

I broke down and I had to go into the office and collect myself because I couldn't believe that I was on the floor talking about kimchi and pouring a wine; in my youth, I would have never believed it because I was so stressed out and anxiety-ridden over it. Read more >>>

[Photo: Neighborhood Dining Group]

Sean Brock on Critics of Chef Events

When you're able to get together all of these talented and intelligent people in what's basically a roundtable discussion, you learn so much. What's wrong with like-minded individuals getting together and discussing things of interest? Nothing negative is going to come of that. Nothing. When people say bad things about it, they're probably jealous, which is unfortunate. Read more >>>

Linton Hopkins. [Photo: Sara Hanna]

Linton Hopkins on How to Read Cookbooks

I would say to my books, what are you going to teach me about chicken stock? And I'd look at my collection of cookbooks and find every chicken stock there is. I would write them down and learn how to do all of them and track them and find out which chicken stock is mine, which chicken stock do I really like....That level of analysis defines the truths behind these recipes. Read more >>>

[Photo: Frontera Grill]

Rick Bayless on Critics

It's a very interesting thing that when someone who isn't from French or Italian descent and tries to do one of those cuisines in the U.S., nothing happens... For some reason, it isn't like that with cuisines from the third world... I don't get it. Read more >>>

· All Year in Eater Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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