Bravotv.com: Are you a Top Chef fan? What were you expecting when you came on?
Yes, I'm a fan. I've been watching the show since it started. I enjoy the show a lot. I didn't really know what to expect; I was looking forward to having fun and to experience it from a judge's point of view vs.an observer's/competitor's point of view. What a pleasant surprise I had being a judge. I really enjoyed it -- even more than I thought I was going to. I'd love to do it again.
Bravotv.com: First, the Quickfire: How important is knowing how to butcher to a chef?
It's extremely important on many levels -- to know the anatomy of meat and fish and different animals, to refine your knife skills but to be able to choose your product at a raw state and customize it to your specs. It's important from a cost standpoint to buy and shop and butcher stuff yourself.
Bravotv.com: You can tell if a steak is cooked correctly by cutting through it, looking at color. What are some tips for the steakhouse diner? Also, is Medium Rare the standard to order for the best flavor and why?
It's important for the diner to understand what exactly they are ordering, and to ensure it's actually what they want. Blue is very red, with a cold center. Rare is red, with a cool center. Medium-rare is red with a warm center. Medium is pink, with a hot center. Medium-well has a dull pink center. Yes -- medium-rare is the standard for ordering and enjoying steaks because you retain the juices and blood with the flavor vs. well done, where everything is cooked out and you lose a lot of the natural flavors that way. Also for texture and tenderness, the fibers in the well-done steak get chewy because they are cooked all the way through -- they aren't as soft and pliable.