Chatting with Chef Morimoto at his new Tribeca Canvas, copyright Brent Herrig
I’ve been having a crisis of faith, recently.
Not about this week, with Passover and Easter coming – though there is some angst there that is in tomorrow’s post (lucky you!)
But about the value in what I do.
I write, mostly about food. I interview people and build recipes and am a part of the pop culture world that partly gives me the willies. I was never the one to know what restaurant was hot and worth going to. I’m still not, really, other than that I now know about 50 chefs who are creating amazing food. I don’t like going out to eat to be seen. And did you know that chef groupies are a thing now? Quelle horreur!
I want the work I do to have value. I want to be a part of something because it contributes, because it helps give our world shape, and because it connects people on a visceral level. And while food does that in intimate and beautiful ways, it’s also become such an eye-rolling point of focus in New York that I want to yawn and pour a whiskey and watch Frasier or something.
That is, until I actually sit down and work.
Chef Jehangir Mehta at Mehtaphor, Photo Brent Herrig
Over some red wine and chicken satay, I chatted with Chef Jehangir Mehta about his passions, the state of Indian food and chefs in NYC, and the difference between an allergy and a fad. For a chef with so much on his plate – he’s been on the Food Network for several Iron Chef incarnations, has two restaurants, two kids, a book, a catering company and a smathering of classes – Chef Mehta is extremely focused and enthusiastic during our time together.
As Brent and I leave the restaurant, we turn a corner to be met with Chef coming out a side door – he had offered to let us sample an appetizer we had been talking about, and we had left without trying it. I went back inside to a raw oyster sprinkled with Pop Rocks and grapefruit granita. As this crazy explosion of flavors, sound and sensation took over every crevice of my mouth, I couldn’t help by smile and laugh, while Chef Mehta described how he wanted to bring back that childlike excitement of a day on the beach and the thrill of thunderous, crashing waves.
Well done, Chef, well done.
This meeting was one for my column We Chat With… on Serious Eats NY. The series has sat me down at a table across from some of NYC’s most celebrated chefs and creators.
For the full interview, head over to Serious Eats NY.