Welcome to a new series, Take 5, where we’ll be asking our favorite culinary personalities five completely random questions and getting their honest, off-the-cuff answers. First up: Chris Cosentino, chef, TV personality and author of the new book Offal Good.
Chris Cosentino wants to get to the bottom of one question.
“Why is it okay to see people eating people on The Walking Dead, but if a cooking program shows offal, people turn it off?” It’s an incongruity that doesn’t add up for him, and one he hopes to change with his cooking philosophy, which is—quite literally—cooking nose to tail.
While he admits it can be hard to get Americans to come around to lesser-used cuts like tripe and beef tongue, for him, it’s an economic imperative. “If 65 percent of an animal is getting pitched and one in six kids is starving, then we have to learn how to maximize what we have.”
“We’ve created not just food disparities, but also food fear,” he points out. When prepared the right way, the chef maintains, American diners will come to love what are currently less-common cuts. That’s the goal of his new book Offal Good. Adds the chef: “It’s really about how it’s presented. People eat offal every Thanksgiving as giblet gravy. If they eat that, then why not try chicken liver spread?”
After asking us all the tough questions, we figured it was time to ask Chris his round. Here we go…
Take 5: The Chris Cosentino Edition
Complete the sentence: “It’s embarrassing just how much I love…”
I don’t eat fast food, and I haven’t had soda in 18 years, but it’s embarrassing how much I love Fritos and Swedish Fish.
What’s a dish that you have to order when you see it on a menu?
I always try pig’s feet, because I love to see how other people prepare it.
What’s the worst kitchen disaster you’ve ever had?
When I was a kid, my school grades were so bad, I used to cook dinner. I remember cooking dinner once and making cookies for dessert—I was probably about 14. For some reason, I decided to not wear a shirt, and I pulled a sheet tray out of the oven and burned my entire chest.
When I was at Rubicon, we had a grease drop bin, and once a guy poured his hot drippings in my shoe instead of in the bin. I jumped in the sink on the line in view of all the guests. The top of my feet—all of the skin—came off.
What’s the phrase people use that grates on you the most?
“I’m a foodie.”
Who was the last celebrity you fangirled over?
Bill Murray came into my restaurant in Napa, Acacia House. I’ve never freaked out, but I proceeded to hide in the kitchen. He was with violinist Joshua Bell. There was over $50 million’s worth of Stradivarius in the restaurant!