Was he most inspiring to you?
Him and Guerard.
So why did you start cooking American cuisine with all of your French background? Did you ever want to open a French restaurant?
No. I want to open an Italian... Well when I came here [to Gotham], I wasn't going to do a French restaurant -- this was an American restaurant... The cuisine was technically French, but you know I didn't use hardly any French words on the menu. But it was really influenced by my experience with Guerard and Maximin especially. I had been mentally training to be a chef for years -- and part to fit was to develop your own style. I mean I guess now that's what every chef tries to do. But I don't know that anybody ever told me to do that, or taught me... So, I really started to develop a personal style that has turned out to be pretty successful I guess.
How would you describe your often-copied style?
Yeah, it was copied a lot. I guess the first thing is -- I mean what we're doing is very contemporary cooking, it's modern and up-to-date, but not trendy. I'm remaining absolutely current. It's not like a museum. It's hardly anything like that. Just always have a lot of respect for time-honored food combinations, flavor combinations, and seasonality...keeping things clean, not too many flavors, [respecting] your ingredients, keeping things in season -- all those sorts of notions, having an organizing principle, whether it be cultural or seasonal, not doing this wacky cross-cultural stuff. I mean, now there are no rules and I think that's great. For me, [my] kind of cooking is timeless, it doesn't, it's like a great piece of fashion -- it doesn't ever go out of style.
Do you still design on the side?
I'm a furniture designer now.
Have you designed anything for Gotham?
No, but I have designed pieces. I still love jewelry. I go to jewelry shows. I buy jewelry. I mean I don't wear a lot, but I still go to shows. [I'm] very interested in jewelry. But the tolerances are so precise. Another interest I've always had is woodworking and furniture making, so about 10 years ago I started doing that. I've made some nice pieces, actually.