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Hungry Crowd

BFF with a Famous Chef: Hugh Jackman on Jean-Georges

Hugh Jackman

Photo © Suzuki K/CPi Syndication.

On the screen, Hugh Jackman has played a mutant (Wolverine), a monster hunter (Van Helsing), and, in January’s big-screen adaptation of Les Miserables, one of literatures great tragic heroes, Jean Valjean. But in real life, the Australian actor lives in New York’s West Village in the same building as one of Food & Wine’s favorite chef’s, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The pair have become actual friends, and so we asked Jackman about what it’s like to hang out with one of the world’s great chefs.

You’re close with chef Vongerichten. What are the best fringe benefits of that?
Getting invited to his country home. I imagine that a lot of chefs are a bit like actors; you know, if you go to an actor’s house, the last they thing they want to do is get up a do a monologue for you. But Jean-Georges is not like that. You go to his house and it’s like living in a Food & Wine photo shoot: There’s lobster, lamb, steak, fish, salad, all done just simply. Lunch at his house was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.

Did you pick up any actual cooking tips from him?
“I said, ‘Mate, do you want some help?’ He taught me how to grill chicken. I could never understand why my chicken’s always dry and a little tough, and you know, he taught me all about the brine and soaking in the brine for 24 hours before you grill it. And he taught me how to do lobster—my job was tucking the butter into the lobster while it was on the grill. You’re not going to J.G.V for a low-fat meal—not happening. I look at him and I wonder, ‘How could you possibly cook and eat like that all the time?’ He only eats about two mouthfuls of everything, he’s very disciplined.”

Those are good tips.
Yeah, but now I’m putting the pressure on my son, because Jean-Georges has a daughter. I’m like, ‘Hurry up, come on, this is the marriage! This is what should be happening!’ It’s been arranged.

Related: The Wolverine Diet

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