I think it’s just the natural progression of a chef. First you cook, and you have so many ingredients and you want to pile everything in. Then, as you develop, you realize it’s more about the quality of the ingredients and the technique you use and really sort of wanting to simplify things.
Going to a food destination, like Portugal. There’s all these classic ingredient combinations that are something they always do. It’s part of their tradition. That’s always really inspiring to me. And then also ancient cooking techniques and just how they eat. You go to Spain, they eat very late. You go to Mexico City, it’s a really big breakfast culture. That’s all really intriguing.
Some places can get too touristy and start to cater to an American style of eating, but I feel like Portugal, because it’s sort of new on the must-go list, still has this original feel. And it’s very open and clear about what their food culture or everyday lifestyle is. That’s really inspiring to me.
I really enjoy not thoroughly planning my adventure and just seeing how the day unfolds on its own. And that sort of comes into play with my regular life. Just knowing what I want, but not being super highly specific about it. And just being open to what happens naturally.
I’ve always been a hat person! It’s started by me having to wear a hat while cooking professionally in a kitchen. Now I find them everywhere. I just went to Marfa, Texas, and got this cowboy hat. It’s huge. In Spain, I was looking for a bolero-style hat. I feel when I see a good hat I feel I just have to get it.
I’m always picking up something from a culture. Certainly I’m always bringing back distinctive spices, or a traditional tool of some sort. In Mexico, for instance, I brought back this beautiful pepita powder. I don’t know yet what I’ll be bringing back from Portugal!