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Why Beard House Chef Michael Fiorelli Wants to Have Dinner With Eric Ripert

Gotham Magazine

November 10, 2015

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Photo by Andrea Bricco

As the driving force behind his Manhattan Beach–based restaurant, Love & Salt, chef Michael Fiorelli exudes California cool with respectable seriousness when it comes to cooking classic Italian cuisine. Fiorelli was in New York City last month for his James Beard dinner, and we chatted with the acclaimed chef about his favorite restaurant in the city, what he thinks the Big Apple is missing, and why he wants to grab dinner with Eric Ripert.

What is your favorite place to eat in New York and what do you order there?
Michael Fiorelli: Charlie Bird. I usually let chef Ryan Hardy choose for me, but I do make sure that I eat every one of the pastas when I'm there.

In your opinion, who is a rising-star chef to watch in New York?
MF: I'm a big fan of chef Nick Anderer at Danny Meyer's Maialino and Marta restaurants. He's creative, progressive, and thoughtful, but at the same time he respects the ingredients and tradition. I suspect that we're going to see more big things from this guy in the near future.

If you could have dinner with any New York chef, dead or alive, who would it be?
MF: Eric Ripert. The guy has held down Le Bernardin for 21 years and is still pulling three Michelin stars. He's one of the few top New York chefs that I have not met. Aside from being extremely skilled and knowledgeable, he seems to have a great outlook on life, food, people, and business. He seems like a cool guy who would be fun to share a meal with—and a couple of bottles of rosé, of course.

What New York City neighborhood do you think has the best food scene?
MF: That's a tough one. That's the thing about New York, you can't turn the corner without stumbling across a great restaurant. I have to say for concentration of great casual spots, the West Village takes the prize. You've got the Spotted Pig, Babbo, La Perla, Pearl Oyster Bar, EN Japanese Brasserie, Tertulia, Minetta Tavern, the Little Owl, Sushi Nakazawa , L'Artusi, Buvette, Barbuto, Big Gay Ice Cream, Murray's Cheese, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Empellon Taqueria... I could go on all day—and they are all blocks from each other.

What are you most looking forward to about the James Beard Foundation event?
MF: Feeling the energy of New York City. Visiting with the city's chefs, enjoying the restaurants, the Union Square Market, and, of course, the extraordinary honor and privilege of cooking in the legendary house that has hosted so many culinary luminaries through the years. It's truly humbling to take part in such a special event.

What kind of food does New York need more of? 
MF: Well, ours, of course. Aside from that, New York is the one city in the world that truly has everything for everyone. Coming from LA though, the one thing you don't see out here are the street tacos. It's like what pizza is in New York. It's on every corner and even if it's bad, it's still pretty good.

Click through for Michael Fiorelli's recipe for Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto.

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This interview was originally published on gotham-magazine.com.