Chef Chat: Charles Stotts of Avalon (part two)
Want to hear about Stotts recent foodgasm? Read on ...
What's the best tool in your kitchen drawer?
A spoon. I am against tongs; they're something else you won't find in my kitchen. Tongs can only be used when working on the grill so you don't burn your hand, but spoons are great. They're good for flipping things in pans, for dressing; they're gentile... I just love the spoon. I go shopping for spoons.
What's your tip to chef wannabes?
Season your food and taste as you go. A recipe calls for an eighth of a teaspoon of salt so someone throws it in and then wonders why it doesn't taste right. That piece of paper led them down a disastrous path.
Who's your favorite celebrity chef?
It would have to be Mario Batali. Not because he's a TV personality, but because he's a real cook. I think he's the cook of cooks on that network. Almost everything he does is at cook's pace. The other ones just get so boring. Mario does five things at once; now there's five minutes well spent.
Who on the Food Network makes you change the channel?
Rachael Ray would never get a job in my kitchen in a million years. Not on her best day.
Where's the food capitol of the US?
I can't imagine it not being New York City. There's everything you could want in every borough. There's something there to offer. I'm not saying all great chefs are in New York City, but the hardest environment, the toughest competition is in New York.
Phoenix has the best ________ (culinary wise)
I don't know that it has the best ... anything. It's weird, because I think it's not because Phoenix doesn't have a personality, but there are certain aspects of weather that affect food -- there's a reason the best pizza comes out of New York City area; it has to do with the humidity and temperature range. The quality of sourdough bread from San Fransicso has to do with the constantly moist atmosphere. I'm a Minnesota boy that loves his farmers and loves the Midwest ... while we do produce some decent produce here in town, agriculture-wise Arizona suffers a little. So what does Arizona have the best of? Great winter resorts, I guess.
Have you ever had a foodgasm?
My favorite chef in the world is Alex Stratta. When I eat his food, I'm just galled. How does he make it this easy? If anyone wants to make me happy for a few hours just sit me down in his company.
I'll be here tomorrow morning at nine ... No but really, every chef who is talented wants their own little place to control their food. I mean how long did Chris Bianco make and serve every pizza out of his oven? Eventually, I would like my own place; small enough to control, big enough to make a living, maybe back in my hometown in Minnesota.
(This was part two of our interview with Avalon Execute Chef, Charles Stotts, you can check out part one.)