Career turning point. "I was waiting tables in San Francisco at a now-defunct place called Alta Plaza Bar and Grill. One day, one of the cooks didn't show up, and I walked into the kitchen. I didn't even own a knife, but I knew this was what I was meant to do. Plus I was a horrible waitress."
First knife. "One night after a couple months of cooking, the executive chef at Alta Plaza pulled me into the dining room and said I had a lot of promise, and gave me my first knife. I still have it; it looks like a dagger now. I only use it at home. It's professionally retired."
Most eye-opening experience. Opening Sonoma Saveurs [Sonoma Foie Gras at the time], a place that specializes in duck foie gras. "Our opening got delayed a year because the foie gras scandal hit [when animal rights activists began bringing attention to the force-feeding of ducks and geese to make foie gras]. There were investigative reporters everywhere and a lot of people asking a lot of hard questions. I had to get an unlisted phone number and basically made myself disappear."