by Chrysa Smith

Before the magazine business dropped like a sunken souffle, my love for food writing began with some celebrity chef interviews. One of my favorites: Eric Treuille, pictured to the right in apron.,,1000056407,00.html. If you’ve been reading since the beginning, you may already know this. Besides being cute (right?) he is one genuine, down-to-earth guy whose life is food. Situated in the UK, the French chef, who has authored dozens of cookbooks on grilling, pasta, bread and more is also owner of a shop called ‘Books for Cooks.’ But most memorable to me was not only spending an hour on the phone with me (long distance), his utter exuberance for food was so delicious. He spoke about an apple tasting like an apple; a tomato like a tomato—not large farmed, tasteless varieties. His advice? When you create a great smelling meal, open all the windows so everyone can smell it. Oh, to be so passionate about one’s career. But I know that food is no ordinary career. It is a life-long, everyday, innate, involuntary love—like mom and apple pie (see, food again?)

OK. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but truly, through the years, I have spoken with many chefs: most of them–guys with a knack for flipping an omelet, building a structural plate, combining common ingredients in a most uncommon way. And most of them got their love for the kitchen early on—helping mothers and grandmothers in their own kitchens.

So, besides Treuille, most chefs are hard to speak to without the clanking of pans and
the need to stop and give instructions to the sous chefs in the background. But Douglas Rodriguez, owner of multiple restaurants, managed to express his Latin love—love of small dishes like tapas love of spices like moles and rubs and pit-grilled meats. And they are quite yummy.

But when it comes to daily cooking, when I turn to websites like Food Network or
Epicurious or Allrecipes, my absolute favorite recipes come from Ina Garten; aka The Barefoot Contessa. I’ve yet to find one of her dishes that I haven’t absolutely loved. And they are mostly created with ingredients you can pronounce and often have on-hand in your pantry. Giada DeLaurentis comes up in second place with her TODAY show appearances and tasty Italian entrees And I have to give a shout out to the lovely Ms. Paula Deen. Not only does she cook with her two grown sons and share her
functional-looking family with us, but who doesn’t love another quarter pound of butter to flavor those meals? This southern belle doesn’t worry about adding calories—bless her artery clogged heart.

Who is your favorite chef? And why?

Click on comments and dish.

Photos: Eric Treuille, Paula Deen