Friday, September 28, 2012

ATC Interview with Chris Cosentino, continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Masters Season 4 Champion, Chris Cosentino.  Congratulations Chef Chris!

CC:  Thank you.

ATC:  You made some bold choices in the finale - which of the four dishes was your favorite?

CC:  You know, all four of those dishes were not only dishes that were carefully prepared and thought through, but they are each very very  special to me.  The Chef's Last Supper is actually in my cookbook, it is the very last page.  I could not choose a favorite.  Each one has a very powerful meaning.

ATC:  Are these available on the menu at your restaurant?

CC:  Yes, I have served three of them for years.  The tripe is always on my menu and the Chef's Last Supper,  but the beef heart tartare with foie gras...unfortunately, in California it is now illegal to serve foie gras so that part is no longer on the menu.

ATC:  When you entered the Top Chef kitchen for the first time and looked around at the other chefs, who did you feel would be your biggest competition?

CC:  Well, Missy Robbins really made me nervous.  Unfortunately because of her injury, she did not have the opportunity to fight for her charity.... I know what Patricia is capable of...  Takashi...of course...  I knew a lot about Kerry but not enough about Kerry.

ATC:  Have you remained in touch with the other chefs?

CC:  Yes, I was just in Seattle and had lunch and dinner with Thierry, I talked to Takashi the other day... I talk to Patricia about once a week.  I talked to Art the other day too.  All of us have been reaching out to one another and it's really a cool thing.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

Excluding the finale, which of course was great - because we got to cook what we wanted to cook...I feel that for me The Grand Canyon Challenge was extremely powerful.  I mean walking out on the Skybridge and looking down through the glass...  being invited on to the sacred land of the Hualapai Tribe was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Even the rainstorm was just beautiful.  This will never be repeated.  The helicopter ride was just hysterical.  Our pilot was so funny and Takashi was able to overcome his fear of heights.  It's just impossible to describe what it was like to be standing on the rim of the Canyon and to look across and see the storm.  It was very very powerful.  Absolutely stunning.

ATC:  Honestly you were very likable on the show - have you felt the fan support?

CC:  Ummm...

ATC:  Have you been recognized in the street?  On the plane?

CC:  Yes, I mean I just took a flight to San Francisco and there were people on the flight congratulating me.  And of course my Twitter just blew up.  It was ridiculous.

ATC:  Besides cooking what are your other interests?

CC:  I am an avid cyclist.  I used to be a professional mountain biker.  Now I ride for fun.  I also really love skiing and I'd like to do more of it.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurant.

CC:  My restaurant Incanto, is in San Francisco in area called  Noe Valley.  It's an Old-World style Italian restaurant.  We try to cook with an Italian philosophy.   In an average week, we get a 250 pound pig, whole -  and two whole lambs or goats depending on what we intend to serve.  We just work our way through the animals and change things up as we go.

We also have a project called Boccalone. We create 26 different cooked, cured and raw products.  We sell all sorts of salumi.  Five heart salumi...  Fresh sausage...  We have been doing it for about 5 years.

I give people at home the ability to have the unique foods that are not available at the general market.  If you want cheek bacon or back bacon you can order them and we will ship them.   These are the lovely Italian flavor profiles made with the best quality meats available for you to serve at home.

ATC:  Tell us about your charity.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research is an amazing charity.  They are not afraid to really leap forward and to take bold chances in an effort to eradicate this disease.  My Uncle John died of Parkinson's and he was diagnosed with the disease over 30 years prior so he suffered with the disease for a long time.  When he died he donated his brain to research.   He was such a generous and convivial guy - he really taught me a lot.   To have the Michael J. Fox Foundation allow me to represent them is a huge honor.  This is really going to help a lot of people.

ATC:  How much did you win?

CC:  I won $141,000 but I just learned that Google is doubling the amount so the total is $282,000.

ATC:  Chef Chris, we are almost out of time, is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

CC:  Don't be afraid of your food!  These are regular cuts of meat.  Other countries celebrate these cuts.  We are the only country that doesn't utilize the entire animal.  We need to learn to appreciate the whole animal and to create less waste.  Try something new.

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