Andrew Carmellini is the executive chef for A Voce restaurant in New York CIty. In 2000, Carmellini was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine. He also won the James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef, and was nominated as Best Chef in New York City by the foundation in both 2002 and 2004.
Question: What makes a great dish?
Andrew Carmellini: You know, there’s a great dish, I mean, what is a great dish? You know, a great dish could be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a great dish could be, I mean, I’m just thinking of my restaurant and I’m thinking about we do a kind of antipasti of Sardinia and sheep’s milk ricotta that gets lightly whipped. It has some herbs and some sea salt and some cracked pepper on it, and we serve that with grilled bread. It gets like a little bit carbonized on the outside and gets rubbed with garlic, very very simple. But when you do really simple things, you’ve got to make sure the bread is warm, you have to make sure the ricotta is room temperature, you have to make sure you put the salt on just before it goes out. It’s like all the little details that really make a great dish. If you were to have a one pot dish of some stewed meat, whatever it is, you know, that could be great, or it could be really, really, really bad just depending on the details or the care that you take in-- it’s like ordering room service in a hotel, you know, you know you’re in a good place when you order a turkey club sandwich and the bread isn’t dry and the turkey doesn’t taste like, you know, shoe, and it was brought to you relatively quickly, and the iceberg lettuce isn’t brown. It’s about the details I think. I mean, there are a lot of great dishes, whether it’s northern Thai curry or fish tacos with salsa verde or a bowl of cereal, it’s really just about the details I think and the care of how you do it and how you make it.