Charleen Badman: On Male Chefs, Cooking for Famous People, and the Irrelevance of Her Lady Parts
This is part two of my interview with Charleen Badman, chef and co-owner of FnB, AZ Wine Merchants and Bodega. If you missed part one, in which Badman praised Lori Hashimoto, described her first meeting with Chris Bianco's mom, and talked about the kitchen phrase she hates, read it here.
Buchanan Charleen Badman
-- Chrysa Robertson Dishes on Male Chefs, How She Handled a Customer Complaint and Why She's Not Really Arizona's Alice Waters
-- Ankimo, the Foie Gras of Japan, Gets a Modern Tweak at Hana
-- Braised Leeks Back on the Menu at FnB
-- How to Be a Restaurant VIP and What It Will Get You
Favorite thing to eat growing up: Fish fillet, especially the one at Sea World while visiting my grandparents in San Diego.
Favorite thing to eat now: Asian.
What people don't know about you is: I've never eaten at my own restaurant.
Your most embarrassing moment in the kitchen: Anytime I let frustration get the best of me. Once, when I was very young and green, I slammed a chocolate sauce bottle on the table so hard that both the top and the sauce hit the ceiling. The prep cook at the time said he saw Jesus. I cleaned it up quietly.
Pavle Milic Chalkboard in kitchen
National/international chef you admire: Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune in NYC. The woman is as real and true as her food.
You started eating more healthfully and lost a lot of weight. Do you still allow yourself a guilty pleasure?: I am not totally against splurging and eating to your heart's content. I still go on "Research and Development" trips and eat everything . . . okay, I taste everything. But anymore, I choose to eat foods that make me feel physically comfortable -- vegetables and more vegetables.
Describe your cooking style: It's definitely seasonal, rustic, and inspired by whatever I'm interested in.
Has your cooking or your philosophy about cooking evolved since you opened FnB?: Oh, my God, yes. I have slowly made the menu healthier and more vegetable-driven.
You love incorporating exotic ingredients and obscure dishes. Why?: I'm always curious and inspired by different flavors and other cultures. I try to use ethnic- inspired dishes in a genuine fashion, though. I hate fusion confusion.
And you seem to especially love Middle Eastern. What's up with that?: I love the fact that they use vegetables, legumes, and fewer proteins, and they complement with herbs, chiles, and savory sauces.