Best Local Chef
Celebrity chefs rule
the airwaves and the bookstores, but which of them should you invite into your kitchen? Two-time best local chef Eric Pater offers an insider’s take on top celebrity chefs:
who currently stars in the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” and made a name for himself by writing a behind-the-scenes book about the restaurant biz called “Kitchen Confidential,” is Pater’s favorite celebrity chef. “It was the first book I read that told it like it really is in the kitchens of restaurants,” Pater says. “It can be a little vulgar and graphic.” The book realistically portrayed “the people, the environment, the lifestyle, the long hours, the abuse to the body, and all that ‘good stuff,’” he says.
owner of The French Laundry and other Napa Valley restaurants, is the celebrity chef who has provided the most culinary inspiration to Pater. “A lot of people say he’s the best American-born chef ever. Americans don’t always get a lot of respect in the culinary world, but he’s one who’s definitely gotten it.” Keller also opened Pater’s eyes to the “farm to table” or “plow to plate” trend. “On a personal level, I think that is hugely important. The closer to home you can get it, the better,” Pater says.
who specializes in Southwestern cuisine, “has gotten a bad rap in the food circles I’ve come up in,” Pater says. Although Pater likes Flay’s food, “he comes across to me as kind of a fake on television, but who am I to judge?”
gets similar reviews from Pater. “She’s good for her niche in 30-minute meals and catering to the busy housewife, but she’s a little too bubbly for me,” he says.
on the other hand, “is one of those historic people that you have to pay respect to.” Pater remembers watching Julia Child when he was a kid. She was a classic French chef, but “she wasn’t trying to do things that were too extravagant. She was bringing French techniques to American cooking and making it doable at home.”
is another celebrity chef that Pater respects. Pater especially enjoys the “Essence of Emeril” show, in which Lagasse cooks without an audience and doesn’t feel the need to perform. And Pater doesn’t question Lagasse’s innate talent: “I’ve heard he can taste pork fat from different parts of the pig and tell you what part of the pig it is from. He has a very impressive palate.”
• RUNNER UP: Chris Rohe at Prescotts