What's your favorite new ingredient?
I've been using much more harissa over the last year or so. I use it in this marinated oyster preparation that people seem to be digging. It's just oysters marinated with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, chives and harissa, and something about that combo seems to kick up the oysters a bit.
What's the most versatile spice?
Black pepper, I suppose. I can't get away from using that. I like the robust flavor. I don't use a lot of white pepper because I don't think the flavor is really balanced. And it smells like a horse's backside.
What's the most underused spice?
I'd probably say black pepper again. You know, ground correctly, it makes a big difference and gives a lot of complexity. It can also produce a serious amount of heat—more so than people think. You don't necessarily have to put cayenne in something, and if you have things that are creamy, black pepper really helps to break up the richness.