Sometimes it’s conscious. When I was doing the burgers, I needed to build a Cuban burger, so the most predictable thing was a chorizo burger. Sometimes it’s just the way that I cook.
Who influences you?
My influences come from all of the chefs
Meaning forget everything. I have to do what you would do. I have to flavor it the way you would. So from doing that so many times, I still maintain my Latino upbringing in my food and how I express it, but I also take a little bit from you.
Yes. I was afraid of failure. Most restaurants fail within three months. Then after three months it’s a new metric. Then it’s the six-month mark and then it’s the nine-month mark and the one-year mark. I was looking for places in Midtown and I couldn’t afford it. I made my business plan and I knew I needed to be somewhere where I could be open for at least a year. I also had the fear of whether or not people would like my food. To put something out there and someone doesn’t like it, it’s very personal.
You have strong feelings about your food being eaten as created without substitutions.
December 11, 2015
So with everything there’s a purpose. Yeah, if you want the burger without the fries and you want vegetables ... but when you order the burger plain, that’s when I say I don’t think you’re gonna like it. You’re literally removing everything. Let me take you on a journey. Let me do my job.
Does being an openly gay chef present certain challenges that are foreign to straight chefs?
How fast can you carve a turkey? How fast can you debone a chicken? Can you do the job or not? That’s what people care about in the kitchen. I love living my life. I’m a proud gay man and I don’t feel any lesser. It’s very freeing.
What are your plans for Christmas?
This year we’re going to spend Christmas
Dijon Cranberry Relish
and New Year’s in Paris. We usually rent an apartment and I go to the Rue Cler market and I grab ingredients and I come home and cook. How many chefs can say they stayed in a French apartment, lived like a French person, went to the market and practiced French?