An Interview with Gavin Kaysen

An Interview with Gavin Kaysen

This week, Chefs Feed met up with renowned chef Kaysen at his restaurant, Cafe Boulud, in New York City's Upper West Side.

March 5, 2014
CF: I'm best known for my _______ style of cooking but I can make one hell of a _______.
GK: modern French; Rice Krispies treat

CF: A few words your sous chef would use to describe you.
GK: Organized and a little neurotic, but kind and very fair.

CF: What are you most excited about right now in your restaurant?
GK: I am excited for spring and what it brings—peas, morels, asparagus (both green and white), fresh garbanzo beans… I could go on and on. Every year we put our vegetable garden salad back on the menu. It's sort of my celebration for spring, demonstrating my love for produce and all the farmers that bring it to us every day.

CF: Which chef would you drop everything to stage with?
GK: Josh Skenes from Saison in San Francisco. I'd love to stage for him and see how he cooks the way he does. I have no idea how he cooks like that! (Editors note: Check out our video on the Chefs Feed Network to get a rare behind the scenes look at chef Skenes.)

CF: Message to professional food critics.
GK: If you can really remain anonymous and give us the critique we would get from a guest's point of view, it is much more helpful than us knowing who you are ahead of time. We essentially want the reader to be able to come in and get the exact same experience they just read about.

CF: One piece of advice for aspiring young chefs.
GK: Be patient, set specific goals, and read them often. In 2000, I was working at Domaine Chandon in Napa and my friend and I were looking at a Food & Wine issue. We ripped the cover in half, and I took the word "food" while he took "wine." We put it in our wallets and agreed to not take it out until we made it on the cover as "Best New Chef." The year that I won, I framed the ripped and disheveled piece of "food."

CF: Favorite fro-yo combo?
GK: Birthday cake with sprinkles and gummy bears on top. Oh, and chocolate Heath bar, but only on half just in case my son doesn't want it on the entire thing.

CF: Thick or thin patty?
GK: I'd say thick, but it's not about the size of the patty. What's more important is the burger-to-bun ratio.

CF: Is there anything you don't like?
GK: The only thing I don't like is stewed okra. I just don't like it texturally, but I like it fried.

CF: What's for family meal tonight?
GK: Barbecue sandwiches with confit duck legs