Gallery: We Chat With: Our Favorite Quotes from Chefs This Year

Eli Kaimeh of Per Se
Eli Kaimeh of Per Se
I think what makes the best meal of your life is the company that you share it with. When going out to a really fancy restaurant or a very exclusive restaurant, the first thing I want to do is bring somebody that I know I'm going to have a great time with. That will always make even a bad dinner pretty good, because it's more than just a food experience, it's a life experience. Read the full interview »
Missy Robbins of A Voce
Missy Robbins of A Voce
I think more than technique, it's a philosophy of not manipulating food—everything on the plate is there to highlight the season and ingredient, not manipulate it. So what we do at A Voce is take really traditional Italian concepts from different regions and modernize them. Our philosophy is about taking the best recipes and enhancing them. Read the full interview »
Dale Talde of Talde
Dale Talde of Talde
When I started out I would look at the dish and say, "I want it to look like this," instead of, "I want it to taste like this." Then I made a total flip: don't make aesthetic the primary focus—it has to taste good. You're not making works of art, you're making things people have to consume. If you're going to use a technique, cool, but keep it to yourself. Who are you trying to impress, yourself or your guests? Read the full interview »
Marcus Jernmark of Aquavit
Marcus Jernmark of Aquavit
The first priority is quality of ingredients, the second is how we can push the flavors, and the third is how we're going to put it together in a way that's visual and textural. I have a brand new kitchen and a wonderful kitchen team and a small restaurant, so I'm very spoiled; I don't have many problems. Read the full interview »
Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune
Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune
I wanted to have a place where the food was as professionally cooked as high-end restaurants, but where we take away all the debris and the pomp and the crap and just get down to the food part. Food from people who know what they're doing for people who know what they're doing. It was very nice in the beginning and it continues—cooks eat here. I love that cooks eat here all the time. It's very gratifying. Read the full interview »
April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and The Jon Dory
April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and The Jon Dory
Be open—things change. It's good to be aware of an ingredient from the moment you buy it, to the moment you prep, cook and eat it. Because things are just not "the same." So just learn to trust your own palate, and keep training your palate to know how to work with something to make it delicious. Read the full interview »
Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park
Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park
I hire people not on the basis of their resumes. People come and do a stage here, I get to know them and they cook for us. But it's the question: do I want to spend time with this person? Because time is the most precious thing. I don't want to have people here that I don't like or that I don't want to spend time with. And that's how we hire. Read the full interview »
Paul Grieco of Hearth and Terroir
Paul Grieco of Hearth and Terroir
Riesling doesn't shock me. Riesling brings a smile to my face and my soul feels complete when I drink it. All I look for is an expression of six things: that Riesling must be balanced, complex, finesseful, have a sense of place, have the ability to age, and be yummy. And if you meet those six criteria, I'm a happy camper. Read the full interview »
Paul Liebrandt of Corton
Paul Liebrandt of Corton
It's the connection with the person I'm cooking for. It's sitting at a table, eating and talking and finding out something that I didn't know before. When you're young as a cook you go out to dinner and it's all about the food. And that's wonderful—that's part of growing. The older you get it's more about the experience of who you're dining with and where you're dining. Read the full interview »
Daniel Holzman of the Meatball Shops
Daniel Holzman of the Meatball Shops
Everything about NYC makes it the right home for the Meatball Shops. I really, really do believe that it's just the greatest place to have a restaurant. People here get behind you and support you. They eat until late at night, seek out really good food, appreciate good quality and when you do something that's good they notice it. Read the full interview »
Susur Lee
Susur Lee
I love the social learning about restaurants. When I was younger I always said, "this is what I do, take it or leave it." Now I try to understand generations: how they eat, how they think about their style of eating, what are their taste buds? You're not just making food; you have to have a social study. I like people, and this is a people business, so it's great. Read the full interview »
Seamus Mullen of Tertulia
Seamus Mullen of Tertulia
I consider our cuisine to be ingredient-focused and product-based, not regional. I take different ingredients and inspiration and cook within the language of Spanish cuisine. We know where our ingredients are from and we use the best quality ingredients we can get so we can do as little as is necessary to make them shine. Read the full interview »
Shawn Gawle of Corton
Shawn Gawle of Corton
I don't want to have too much going on. I want it to be about one major thing: if it's passion fruit and rhubarb I want it to taste like passion fruit and rhubarb, and then try to get in a couple of things that go well, or make that better, or highlight it more so that there's a couple of accents. Read the full interview »
Dave Arnold of Booker and Dax
Dave Arnold of Booker and Dax
What's most gratifying for me is when someone thinks that we're just some sorta flashy tech bar, then realizes this is a friendly place where they can enjoy a drink in an un-pretentious environment. Also a lot of customers hop around the menu because they want to try all the different stuff—and I like that—but it's really gratifying when someone likes what they had the first time so much that they order another one. Read the full interview »
Harold Dieterle of Kin Shop and Perilla
Harold Dieterle of Kin Shop and Perilla
It's personal for me. I traveled a lot and thought a lot about what I wanted to create. I want to apply those Asian and Thai flavors and techniques to ingredients I'm finding in the greenmarket. I find that interesting. Read the full interview »
Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti and Mehtaphor
Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti and Mehtaphor
What excites me is just getting the right balance in terms of ingredients and spices, and then incorporating them into food in a way that people might not have thought of. I'm not reinventing the wheel, but I'm thinking of those ways I like to add things to my food. Read the full interview »
Alain Ducasse of Adour
Alain Ducasse of Adour
Time. Take time to learn and train, time to walk around in the markets, touch, smell and look at the products. Savor slowly the first bite of the dish. At the end of the day, cooking is much more than techniques: it's an art de vivre. Read the full interview »
Meredith Kurtzman of Otto
Meredith Kurtzman of Otto
I like delicious food and I like making delicious food. That's what always brought me to this career and, honestly, I guess through years of being older I don't expect something new everyday. You practice a craft, you produce something consistent, and you're happy to earn a paycheck. It's kinda the story—I don't really care for the pretense, I just like delicious things. Simple and good. Read the full interview »
Andy Ricker of Pok Pok
Andy Ricker of Pok Pok
I sort of set off on this journey of discovery. And the deeper I dug the more I realized I knew so little about Thai food that it was scary. To this day I still don't consider myself an expert—I think that I've got a lot to learn. Read the full interview »
Alex Stupak of Empellon
Alex Stupak of Empellon
It's not about getting good reviews—it's about doing something I haven't done before. So if it takes me ten years to get to that, or fifteen or twenty or I never get to it, at least I'm trying to do it. I was so inspired by these guys I worked for that I'm trying to hold myself to that standard. I'm trying to reach for something that's very far away. Read the full interview »
Stephen Collucci of Colicchio and Sons
Stephen Collucci of Colicchio and Sons
I love making things that should not be at a three star restaurant. People have asked, "what's the best way to eat this dessert?" And I love when I can say, "grab this, wipe it through the plate and then put it in your mouth." It's fun. Read the full interview »
Doug Quint of Big Gay Ice Cream
Doug Quint of Big Gay Ice Cream
The whole thing has been a weird adventure unfolding before me. I'm not scared of any of it. If it's scary, it's exciting. We just keep doing stuff that we're ready for. Read the full interview »
Kenny Callaghan of Blue Smoke
Kenny Callaghan of Blue Smoke
The barbecue community itself is just a tremendous group of individuals—very caring, very giving. They will give you the shirt off their backs. They will lie to you through their teeth if you try to ask them any secrets, but they will do it in the most hospitable manner possible. They're a great group, and I've learned a lot from these guys on how it gets done. Read the full interview »

[Photograph: Josh Bousel]

Shea Gallante of Ciano
Shea Gallante of Ciano
I was one that always wanted to change things all the time, but I learned less change is better: keep it fresh and keep it consistent. Consistency is the biggest plus for people; keeping consistent in the product and execution. Keep doing that and people will keep coming back. Read the full interview »

[Photograph: Carey Jones]