What’s your favorite food city?
I absolutely love Mexico City, where my wife is from. One of my favorite places to eat there is called Restaurante Arroyo. It’s a really big place; you go in and they are frying the chicharrónes right in front of you. Their goat carnitas with fresh tortillas are to die for.
Where do you find new recipes to try out?
My favorite show is Top Chef; I download episodes on my iPad when I’m competing overseas so I can see what dishes Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio like. Then I go to the website to find the recipes.
What do you cook for unexpected, last-minute guests?
My pasta carbonara. I like to throw pepperoncini in it—I do everything spicy. When we invite Italian friends over, they cringe at that, but I’m American, so I feel like I can always do something a little different.
I understand you love sushi. What do you order at a sushi restaurant?
Sea urchin, or uni, is my go-to. And, of course, Sapporo beer.
When it comes to cooking, what scares you most?
My biggest nightmare would be mole sauce. Whenever I go to Mexico City, I see my wife’s mom and grandma slave for hours over this sauce, putting in millions of spices, tasting a little bit and saying, “This isn’t good.” I’ve never made it myself. I won’t even attempt it.
What’s most likely to be in your glass?
Red wine. Lately I’ve been exploring California Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels. I fell in love with wine when I lived in Italy, and Barolo is my favorite. As a wedding gift, my wife and I received a bottle of 1982 Giuseppe e Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato for her birth year, plus a 1981 Château Margaux, from the year I was born. We store them in a friend’s cellar. If I win a gold this year, we’ll be drinking one of those for sure!