In less than 72 hours, thousands of food and wine enthusiasts will be brushing shoulders with some of the most notable chefs in the game. With a lineup including the likes of Bobby Flay, Robert Irvine and Todd English, the Sun WineFest is gearing up to be one tasty weekend. Another chef who will be making an appearance at this weekend’s events is Elizabeth Falkner, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite chefs. And here’s why:
Since 2006, Chef Falkner has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters as both a contestant AND judge. Her time on the Food Network has been spent running around Kitchen Stadium for Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef. Her excitement for competition and cooking goes way beyond television. In 1997 she opened Citizen Cake, a retail bakery that quickly turned into a full-fledged restaurant. She was forced to close the restaurant, a very hard decision, in 2012. Last summer she set up shop in Brooklyn and opened her own pizzeria, Krescendo. Here’s my chat with the very talented Chef Elizabeth Falkner.
Chris: Your restaurant, Krescendo, is right in the heart of Brooklyn. Have you discovered any favorite grub spots around your new digs?
C: How has the transition from living in San Francisco to New York been? Do you miss California?
EF: I’ve always wanted to live on the east coast. It’s a whole new chapter in my life and I’ve already met some super friendly people. I don’t miss it too much. Brooklyn has become a very comfortable second home.
C: If you could spend a summer in any country in the world to explore its food and culture, where would you go?
EF: It would have to be Italy, mostly northern Italy (Naples). I went to Rome a couple of years ago and ate some amazing pasta dishes and wine. I also became pizziaolo certified.
C: What advice would you give young chefs who aspire to be like the chefs they see on TV such as yourself?
EF: Being a professional chef has somewhat become a sport. A lot of families watch the Food Network and other food channels, so we are viewed almost like athletes where these kids are looking up to us. It takes a lot of hard work and you can’t just become a TV Chef star. It happens organically. Biggest advice is to take care of yourself and stay physically fit.
C: Your competitive spirit is so evident every time you’re on camera during a chef battle. How do you prepare yourself mentally when it comes to those big kitchen battle showdowns?
EF: I love this kind of stuff. It’s like a sport. Since I am in the kitchen almost every day, I’m continually practicing my cooking skills. I prepare by getting in really good shape physically and mentally. During kitchen battles, the atmosphere is like being in the middle of a soccer game. The cameras are running all over the place and so is everyone else.
C: Who is the one person that you would be most honored to cook for? What would you prepare for them?
EF: Well, I’m honored to cook for lots of people everyday I’m in the kitchen. Last year, I baked a birthday cake for Muhammad Ali. That was cool.
C: With the Mohegan Sun Winefest coming up, what are your plans for the three-day event?
EF: I’ll be at the Celebrity Chef Dine Around cooking one of my signature dishes. It’s called Pasta con la sarde. It’s an amazing dish because nobody expects that much flavor from the ingredients. There’s no meat or stock. I’ve had people say “there MUST be chicken stock in this.” But the flavors from the anchovy, sardines and saffron add so much to the dish.
C: Thanks again Chef Falkner for taking the time to talk. We’ll see you at the Sun Winefest this weekend!
EF: Thanks! Bye!