Jesse Tyler Ferguson is clearly a man of many talents. He plays the lovable Mitch on ABC's hit show Modern Family (which just got renewed for two more seasons), recently starred in the off-Broadway one-man show Fully Committed (in which he played 40 different characters!), and he designs a line of bow ties with husband Justin Mikita called Tie the Knot.
But if you follow Ferguson on social media, you'll know that he's also a huge foodie. Like, enormous. He has his own food blog with former Saveur recipe developer Julie Tanous, called Julie & Jesse's Recipes. His current favorite restaurants include Scott Conant's newly-opened The Ponte and Curtis Stone's Gwen, both in Los Angeles, along with Michelin-starred chef Missy Robbins' Lilia in Brooklyn. And earlier this month he hosted the 2017 James Beard Awards, which brings out the culinary world's biggest stars.
Ferguson recently revealed to The Feast which chef he's still dying to meet, shared his favorite cookbooks, and shockingly spoke out against the hottest food trend du jour—avocado toast.
The Feast: You recently hosted the James Beard Awards. How was it? Were you nervous?
Jesse Tyler Ferguson: I was nervous. It's a community that I respect so deeply, and I think being a host of anything is tricky because you have to play to a room full of people and you want to entertain them, but you also want to honor them and you don't want to make the night about you. But at the same time you want to be funny, but it's their evening. And then on top of that there's a room full of chefs and restaurateurs and bakers and people who I really, truly respect so much. A lot of these people, I had eaten at their restaurants or I had seen on episodes of Chef's Table, or they've been contestants on Top Chef, there were just so many exciting people in the room.
The Feast: Who did you get to meet that you were most excited about?
JTF: I met Chef [Grant] Achatz after having a dinner at Alinea, which was really amazing, and David Chang and I got to talk backstage a little bit. Ludo Lefebvre is an acquaintance of mine in Los Angeles and I ended up catching up with him. Daniel Boulud, I got to meet backstage, which was really exciting. So it was the titans of the culinary world.
The Feast: Are there any chefs you still want to meet?
JTF: Thomas Keller was meant to be there and he had to pull out last minute, so I was sad not to meet him. I am, however, eating at French Laundry later this month; I've never been, so I'm hoping I'll run into him.
The Feast: How do you and Julie Tanous collaborate on your blog?
JTF: We sort of powwow and discuss recipes we might want to try. And then we gather ingredients and we meet in the kitchen and we sort of just develop on the spot. Sometimes it starts with a flavor profile that we want to highlight, or we want to tackle trying to make something gluten free. We always try and bring our own spin to a recipe…I had a surplus of citrus the other day so we were like, let's do something with all the citrus. So we made pickled citrus salad with fresh herbs and avocado and it was super simple, but it was something that was really fun to create. You know, everything in the food world, I find, is a little bit derivative of something else. It's just a matter of finding your own spin and putting a spin on things.
The Feast: Do you have a signature dish or a go-to when people come over?
JTF: I love to try new things so there isn't a standard dish. Certainly things are in rotation for awhile, they reappear often on my table. There's a Sriracha salmon recipe that I really love making, there's a sweet-and-sour thai basil beef dish that I love doing. But then like I said, I like to crack open a cookbook and find something totally new and totally different and then find a way to put my own spin on it.
The Feast: What are your favorite cookbooks?
JTF: Oh gosh, there's so many. Padma Lakshmi's book is something I use a lot, and when I want to do super healthy clean cooking I look at Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook. I love Ina Garten's recipes, and I also love restaurants that I admire, like the Nomad in New York City, I have their cookbook for when sometimes I want to do something a little more ambitious.
The Feast: Are there any ingredients that you refuse to eat or think are overrated right now?
JTF: I don't refuse to eat anything. I used to not use spice as much as I do now, because I do suffer from heartburn, but now that I can sort of curb that with the help of PEPCID [Ferguson has partnered with PEPCID for the second year in a row], I'm able to use spice as much as I want to. Something I do feel like is a trend that I would like to see go away is, um…avocado toast. [Laughs.]
The Feast: That's so controversial that you just said that!
JTF: I know, I know. I mean, it's delicious, it's just that there's so many spins on it, and everyone sort of acts like this avocado toast with the fried egg on it is like the most revolutionary thing. It's delicious, but we've gotta stop pretending that we're the ones who discovered it.
Brussels sprouts and kale salad are also high up on that list.
The Feast: When you're on set, what are your favorite things to eat or snack on?
JTF: The thing about working on a set is there's always food available so you tend to go and graze when you're a little bored or between scenes. If I'm gonna pick something up I try and eat light and eat healthy while I'm on set or else I will leave the studio 20 pounds heavier than when I arrived. So I try and eat healthy on set and they certainly provide us with an array of things. But there's a lot of contagion; a lot of candy and a lot of cookies, which I love.
The Feast: Any specific guilty pleasure favorites?
JTF: I love Good and Plentys.
The Feast: Interesting. You don't see a lot of those around anymore.
JTF: No. No, because I'm eating them all.
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