1998 America's Best New Chefs | Danielle Custer

Laurels, Dallas

Age: 29

Background: Trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Worked at Fullers, Seattle; Lola, New York City.

How she got into cooking: Started making dough in a New York City pizzeria when she was 13.

First sign she'd become a chef : "When I stayed home sick from school, I'd cook all day; my parents would come back to entire meals."

First food memory: "An ice cream sandwich, when I was one."

Favorite food city: New York. "It's always good, from the diviest dive to the ritziest Ritz."

Ingredient picks: Greens and cheese. "Monique Barbeau of Fullers said that when I die I'll be buried with a bunch of watercress and a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano."

Favorite equipment: A hot water urn. "Hot water can fix anything, from a broken sauce to a too-thick soup."

Favorite cocktail: Metaxa sidecar. "It's like a margarita made with Greek brandy."

Most tired trend: Steak houses.

Weirdest food she's ever eaten: Guinea pig.

Favorite 1 A.M. meal: Quesadillas.

Food vice: Brownies.

Recipe tip: s: When grilling greens, make sure that the pan is very hot. Grill greens in a clump; if you spread them too thinly, they burn.

Info: Sheraton Park Central Hotel, 12720 Merit Dr.; 972-851-2021.

PUBLISHED July 1998

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