'Top Chef' is always entertaining - it's hard to stop watching, like a good hockey fight, but no one gets hurt. It's great that the format is so inherently dramatic and can make cooking so entertaining to people who might not ordinarily be interested in a cooking show. Good for the industry all round.
Typically, you learn how to cook, but you don't know why. We were looking for a deeper understanding of what was happening to our food as we roasted it, boiled it, grilled it, chopped it, etc. And it turned out, as we began to really say what is cooking, what does it mean to cook, there's a lot of science involved.
I was working for a chef a long time ago who told me to not skip steps or be in a hurry. Success in a kitchen is more like a marathon and less like a sprint. Rising up the ranks too quickly isn't necessarily a good thing. This advice was from a guy who was sorry he had done that and didn't want me to do the same.
I don't like the term 'dinner as theater,' because that implies something thespian that I don't want to tie into this, but there are plenty of times that people go out to dinner because they want to have an experience. There are, however, probably many more times that people go out to eat because it's 7 o'clock and it's time to eat.
I think it's important for anyone who is artistic to look back on their body of work and be critical. Maybe the Beatles can look back and say everything was perfect, but we've come up with hundreds and hundreds of dishes, and anyone who is honest with themselves has to realize that every single one wasn't an absolute, unequivocal home run.
We have a funny sort of love/hate relationship with critics because, unfortunately, in the art/commerce dance that we do, they drive people to the restaurant. Regardless of sometimes how well we prepare the food, if people don't know that we're out there, if someone isn't talking about us, you guys aren't coming.
Green vegetables are something that fascinate chefs; the ability to keep vegetables green. How do we keep them green? What makes them green? Why are they green? And then that sort of army green. Why do they go from bright vibrant electric green to army green, and how can we avoid that?