F&W Star Chef
Restaurants Momofuku Milk Bar (New York City)
Experience Bouley, WD-50 (New York City)
Education International Culinary Center (formerly French Culinary Institute; New York City)
Cereal Milk! I think it resonates because it’s the most honest, resourceful, “gettable,” and delicious dessert.
Favorite cookbook of all time?
The Joy of Cooking. It’s so rich in food history and culture. I use it as a jumping-off point. I always find something new when I sit down and open it up for inspiration.
Who is your food mentor?
Wylie Dufresne has been my biggest influence for so long on food (sensibility, balance, innovation, texture) and restaurant life, family and culture. But Dave Chang definitely rivals that with his own approach to food, how to create a team and how to lead.
What was the first dish you ever cooked yourself?
Stewed tomatoes with buttered toast, a family tradition.
What is the best bang-for-the-buck ingredient?
Salt and/or acidity. I don’t think you need a pantry full of ingredients to make something mind-blowing. Proper balance in seasoning is the cheapest, most successful tool you can have to make great food your kitchen.
Best bang-for-the-buck food trip?
Queens, New York. It’s like taking a trip around the world for the price of a subway token.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.