We hope you enjoyed playing the inaugural edition of “Ask the Chef.” Everyone offered great questions.
For those of you just tuning in, we asked our readers to send in questions for our guest chef, Michael Ruhlman. Known as one of the BEST food writers of our time, his industry greats include The Soul of a Chef and The French Laundry Cookbook, a collaborative project with Thomas Keller. Michael has also been on many television shows including Iron Chef America and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
We spent some time speaking with Michael Ruhlman to get the skinny. Below are the answers to your burning questions (plus a few of our own):
Q: Tell me about your relationship with Thomas Keller and how it has evolved since first meeting him during the writing of The Soul of a Chef (question by CIA graduate Melody):
MR: It began with an accidental meeting through Susie Heller, a Clevelander who was working on the book. We are now friends and colleagues. I found it very easy to mimic his voice, so we worked well as chef and author. There are few people in this world that I have more respect for than Chef Keller.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration to pair unlikely foods together? How much trial and error do you have to go through before you find the perfect flavor combination (question by Trisha, foodie in California):
MR: Pairing uncommon ingredients comes down to having imagination and also taste imagination. Learn by tasting and practicing. My inspiration comes from loving food, being interested, having curiosity and trying new things.
Q: What do you think of the pop-up restaurant trend (question by Donna, foodie):
MR: I don’t know what to think about it. I’m kind of out of the loop on pop-up restaurants.
Q: Cupcakes are going out, bacon is still kicking, and food carts are huge. What are a few cooking and dining trends you see on the horizon (question by Rachel, Hounds in the Kitchen blog):
MR: I can’t say because I don’t want anybody to write about them.
Q: Describe your experience on No Reservations:
MR: Anthony Bourdain invited me on a show after Mario Batali backed out. I’m a good guest because I am not a Tony fan boy. I call his bullshit and he calls mine. It works well on camera. We take on an evil Laurel & Hardy persona and people respond to it. He says that it remains one of his favorite shows of the series.
Q: The Columbus food crowd is aware that you and Anthony Bourdain gave Columbus a hard time during the Columbus segment of the Heartland episode of No Reservations. In response, Jim Budros, Steve Stover and Rich Terapak (also known as the Columbus “Food Mafia”) invited you back for a “re-do.” Tell us about that trip:
MR: Those guys knew that Les Jacobs, the best man at my wedding, was a huge OSU fan. They promised him OSU tickets to the game if he could convince me to come down.
Q: Did you have a favorite spot from the tour (by the way readers, the tour included Los Gauchos, OYO vodka at Middle West Spirits, Alana’s, Basi Italia, Rigby’s, Thurn’s, Pistacia Vera, North Market, City Barbeque and Skillet):
MR: No, not really. Just kidding. I loved them all. My biggest disappointment was being too full to eat a lot at Skillet. It was a very uncomfortable ride home.
Q: Do you have a favorite book that you have written/co-written:
MR: Walk On Water: Inside an Elite Pediatric Surgical Unit is the book that I am most proud of. My most successful book is The Soul of a Chef.
Q: Congratulations on your latest book Ruhlman’s Twenty. Is there one of your 20 cooking techniques that is most important or unique:
MR: One of the most surprising ones is the onion. Knowing all of the ways to put an onion to use makes you a much, much, much better cook. We have so much to learn from the onion.
Michael, thank you so much for spending time with ChopSizzlePop! We appreciate your answers to our burning questions and are honored to have you on our blog.
Up next… Michael Ruhlman’s favorite restaurants in Cleveland and beyond.
To learn about all 20 of Michael’s incredible cooking techniques (the onion is #4) , purchase Ruhlman’s Twenty here.
For those of you who like to gamble, we are giving away a copy of Ruhlman’s Twenty to one lucky weekly email update member next week!
Sign-up now to win a copy of Ruhlman’s Twenty
Michael Ruhlman photo courtesy of Donna Turner Ruhlman