Quotable Chefs

Here are some interview leftovers rich in both wit and sincerity.


When I’m interviewing a chef, the conversation can go on for hours, which means a lot of words end up on the cutting room floor. Here are some “unquoted” quotes from this year’s Dining Awards Critic’s Choice winners, along with a few other gems.

“When we started 4 Rivers, few people knew what brisket was—we had to educate them. They’d had it before and it wasn’t good. It’s not quite as daunting now.”
— John Rivers, 4 Rivers Smokehouse (Brisket in Hall of Fame)

“I’m proud of cooking a good steak. I can take pride in making a french fry.”
— Chef Clayton Miller, DoveCote (Best Newcomer)

“I started cooking when I was 14. This is all I’ve ever done.”
— John Calloway, Black Rooster Taqueria (Best Chef)

“I don’t want to be cooking the same thing every year. I need to do what is within me.”
— Norman Van Aken, 1921 (Best Restaurant)

"If a peach doesn't taste like a peach, it goes out the door."
— Chef Kathleen Blake, The Rusty Spoon (Hall of Fame)

"Life is like a box of nigiri." 
— Chef Chau Trinh, Sushi Pop (Best Japanese, 2013 Hall of Fame)

“Maybe when I was six I wanted to be a soccer player; other than that, I was always going to be a chef.”
— Chef Laurent Hollaender, Boheme Restaurant (Best Pre-Theater Dinner)

And from previous conversations:

"I worked at La Nouvelle Justine. It was a 'French' restaurant. You could order a little spanking from the menu. I was scared to death."
 Pom Moongauklang, Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria (multiple Dining Awards winner)

"I was born and raised in Florida. Florida is not the South. We have our own traditions and we have our own things. We do have Southern hospitality, though."
— James Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig (2012 Hall of Fame)

"When I came up, kitchens weren't glamorous. You were lucky if you could get a girl to go out with you if you were a cook."
— Kevin Tarter, Chef’s Table at the Edgewater (2015 Hall of Fame)

"When we were trying to come up with a name for the restaurant, one choice was Kevin On Earth."
— Kevin Fonzo, K Restaurant Wine Bar (2007 Hall of Fame; server Anthony “Rocky” Mazza is in this year’s Hall of Fame)


"I have won two mashed potato-eating contests."
– Orlando’s own Food Network star Emily Ellyn, former Mantua, Ohio, Potato Festival Queen

I like to push the limits … how much salt CAN I get in it?"
— Trina Gregory-Propst, Se7enbites


  • Visit Orlando is searching for a “signature dish” that will represent Orlando on a plate. My vote is for the hyper-local Eggs on a Bun breakfast at Swine & Sons. Two Lake Meadow Naturals eggs, house-made tomato jam and Chef Rhys Gawlak’s bacon on an Olde Hearth bun: What says Made in Orlando better than that?

Stay in touch with Joseph at joseph.hayes@orlandomagazine.com. You can access a comprehensive list of his reviews here!

Categories: Savor Orlando