Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Interview with Chef Stephanie Izard: The First Pinterest Cookbook

Chef Stephanie Izard

Bravo’s Top Chef Winner, Chef Stephanie Izard is helping to create the first-ever Pinterest cookbook, and you can help inspire which recipes will go into that cookbook.  

Chef Izard will create five scrumptious recipes from the 20 most-liked combinations featured on the “Lay’s Wavy Recipe Inspirations” Pinterest page. The cookbook will include 40 recipes determined by fans and inspired by different flavors of Lay’s Wavy potato chips. First 20 recipes available for download this May.  

Chef and partner of two award-winning Chicago restaurants Girl & the Goat and Little Goat, Stephanie Izard will be putting her unique twist on an array of everyday dishes for the Pinterest cookbook. 

Below is the interview on video, and also included is a transcript of the more relevant parts in the conversation.  

CNYou graduated with a degree in sociology before entering the culinary program at Le Cordon Bleu...I was wondering how you reached that decision to go into culinary school. Did you go right away or did you take some time of soul searching after you graduated? 

Chef: I actually ended up going just after college. I really enjoyed studying sociology, and I just had a lot of fun in college. I went to University of Michigan, so [there were] lots of football games and such. But what I really wanted to do, and I could really feel that I wanted to get into restaurant industry, so right after graduation, I left the cold of Michigan and I went down into Arizona where I went to Le Cordon Bleu where I went to culinary school. As soon as I got into school, I just felt like I had found something I was in love with. But I'm glad I went to college first and got all those experiences.  

CN: Since you started working after you won Top Chef, what are some of the craziest requests that you have received from guests, while working at the Girl & the Goat and the Little Goat?  

Chef: Crazy requests...I've had a couple of people ask me to propose for them, or alongside them, like bring a ring to them while they're proposing and that makes me so nervous. It's a wedding ring! I don't want to drop it. I'm happy to come over and say, "Congratulations!" and be part in that way, and not carrying the ring, that just makes me too nervous. [Laughs.]  

CN: [Laughs.] That's really special though, you get to take place in that important moment in their lives. What are some of your favorite parts of working as a chef? 

Chef: The different opportunities that I get, that I get to travel for events. For food and wine, I get to go to Aspen, and in Miami I get to hang out with other chefs, meet with them and get inspiration and such. And doing fun and different projects, partnering up with different folks for creating different recipes and things like that. Lots of things that just keep me on my toes all the time.  

CN: Cool. Traveling with different projects is really exciting.  

Chef: Yeah, it's great when I'm home, and restaurants, and running those, but getting to leave every once in a while and seeing what else is going on in the country is really important, and it's a lot of fun. 

CN: Absolutely. So those are the best parts about working as a chef. How about the most frustrating parts?
 

Chef: Working as a chef, the hours are a bit crazy, so finding that balance in life between working 12-15 hours a day and plus I'm eating all day, and time for my family and gym is always a challenge. When you find the career you really want to follow, you have to really love it to get into it.  

CN: It's a commitment. 

Chef: Exactly. 

CN: That's interesting that you mention that you're eating all day because you have to taste all day. 

Chef: Yeah. It isn't a bad thing, tasting everything I make. But I definitely have to balance it with going for a walk in the morning, or things like that.  

CN: That's true. Your cookbook, The Girl in the Kitchen, came out in 2011. What was your favorite part in the process of putting together that cookbook? 

Chef: For that cookbook, it was the fun of actually getting into the kitchen and creating the recipes. I had my co-author sit there while I was making the recipes and write down notes so that we could make sure every little step would translate into the book, and give tips to home cooks to make it a little simpler in the home kitchen.  

CN: Nice. Where do you get the creative inspiration for your recipes? 

Chef: I get creative inspiration from all over. Some of it's through traveling, which I mentioned that I get out there to travel a little bit. When I don't have time, I go through other cookbooks to flip through and going to the farmer's market, which I'm sure you have some amazing ones in San Diego, and looking online like on Pinterest, where there are so many recipes and so many food inspiration photos, where people can get inspiration for cooking at home too.  

CN: Absolutely, oh, god, Pinterest. So many...I dunno. The place is full of food porn, full of recipes. Can you tell us about your exciting new project to create the first ever Pinterest cookbook? 

Chef: I'm working with Lays Wavy to create the first ever Pinterest cookbook, so the best part of it is that fans get to participate and help me get inspiration for the recipes. So they just go to pinterest.com/layswavy. There are pictures from different dishes, from deviled eggs to doughnuts, to sushi--all partnered up with a different flavor of Lays Wavy, from Hickory BBQ to ranch to cheddar. Some of them might seem a little out there, a little obscure, and I think those are the best ones to pin. Fans get to pin their favorite combinations, and I'm going to take those as inspiration for recipes for the cookbook. So pick the crazy ones, give me a challenge, I think it will be so much fun. 

CN: Wow, that is really new. 

Chef: It's fun that the fans get to participate, whether they're going to pick the ones that look delicious, or the ones that look a little bit too crazy. 

CN: What's your favorite flavor of Lays chips? 

Chef: I'm a cheddar person all the way. I thought that I loved ranch, and I love ranch in almost everything, but there's something about the tanginess of the cheddar chips, and I chose them to make my first recipe in the book. I actually have in front of me a bowl of the crumbled topping that I made, and it's got a little bit of oats, a little bit of sweetness, so Chedder Lays Wavy baked right inside, so super crunch and a little sweet, a little savory, and it's good on just about anything, from pancakes to ice cream, to yogurt. 

CN: Ice cream and chips. Now that's creativity right there. I saw that recipe, I think I might actually try it because I love toppings in my ice cream.  

Chef: Yeah, it's really tasty. I think the little extra crunch makes all the difference.  

CN: I personally like the BBQ flavor of the Lays. And also the cheddar. I think it's hard to find a cheddar chip that I don't like.  

Chef: I agree. I think they have great BBQ ones because you can just slip them into your turkey sandwich and it tastes like you're eating bacon.  

CN: Thank you! And when will the cookbook be available? 

Chef: It's going to be available--the first 20 recipes in May, and then another 20 in the fall. So you can taste things from both seasons, spring and fall.  

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This article and interview is also posted on College News Magazine.

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