CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
In the Green Room

The Chef Who Aced Business School Classes in a Charlie Brown T-Shirt

Eric Greenspan Wishes He Could Hear Jerry Garcia Live One Last Time

Eric Greenspan is a chef, the owner of three Los Angeles restaurants, and a former contestant on Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef. Before joining a panel discussion on the virtues of gluttony and feasting, he talked in the Zócalo green room about cheese, superpowers, and cooking on TV.

Q:
What superpower would you most like to have?

A:
Remember the Wonder Twins—the ones who could turn into animals? My kid likes animals so therefore my kid would like me.

Q:
What’s your favorite freeway?

A:
The 10. Definitely not the 405.

Q:
What’s the most overrated cheese?

A:
Laughing Cow.

Q:
What dessert do you find impossible to resist?

A:
Chubby Hubby. The best Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor ever.

Q:
What’s your biggest pet peeve?

A:
My biggest pet peeve—I don’t want to call it laziness—is lack of excellence. I hate it when people don’t give it their all.

Q:
What teacher or professor changed your life, if any?

A:
It was a professor at the Haas School of Business, and I was in this class with all these buttoned-up future consultants of America, and there I was—dreadlocks, Charlie Brown T-shirt, acing the class. I said I’m thinking of going to culinary school. He asked “Do you have any debt?” I said “No, I worked my way through college.” Then he said, “As long as you’re doing what you want to do, and can achieve it, do what you want to do.”

Q:
On what device do you do most of your reading, if any?

A:
An iPhone. I own three restaurants and do entertainment stuff, and I do everything on my iPhone.

Q:
What was the last thing that inspired you?

A:
Yesterday, it was one of my line cooks figuring out how to make a risotto after I’ve been breaking his balls for weeks.

Q:
If you could hear just one musician, living or dead, in live performance, who would it be?

A:
Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia. When I saw him live, I didn’t have enough appreciation, like I do now, for the greatness that was Jerry Garcia. Just to get one more chance …

Q:
What’s the hardest thing about cooking on TV?

A:
That it’s not real. The best thing about cooking in real life is that you’re cooking for somebody. You’re making a dish and serving it to someone and satisfying somebody. On TV, it’s competition, it’s quantifying something that’s not quantifiable.

*Photo by Jake Fabricius.