Wednesday, 1. September 2010 5:25
When I first started my Food Gal blog in 2008, Chef Christopher Kostow, who had just landed at the Restaurant at Meadowood resort in St. Helena as its executive chef, was gracious enough to be spotlighted in my first “Take Five Q&A.’’
In that interview, the Michelin two-star chef who celebrates his 34th birthday this week, famously said he’d never want to be on a show like “Top Chef’’ because he couldn’t fathom he’d gain anything from it. That may be so, but this Sunday, Sept. 5, you can tune in to watch Kostow tackle another cooking competition show instead –- “Iron Chef America’’ –- when he goes up against Iron Chef Cat Cora.
Yesterday, I chatted with him by phone about why he decided to make the leap into this reality TV cooking arena, and how he coped with his lifelong personal aversion to this particular “secret ingredient.’’
Q: So you remember what you said to me about ‘Top Chef,’ right? So, why go on ‘Iron Chef America’ then?
A: I still don’t have anything to gain from ‘Top Chef.’ But ‘Iron Chef’ is one day or just a few hours really. It’s good exposure, especially when you have a restaurant in Napa that’s off the beaten path. I didn’t miss any time in my kitchen, either, which was important to me.
Q: Are you a fan of these types of shows?
A: Not really. I don’t really watch much food TV. I don’t want to go home and watch people scrambling around, cooking food, because I see that when I’m at work.
I think TV is a double-edged sword. It has raised awareness among the populace about what we do. But there’s a false sense about it. People think we run around all day competing in the kitchen. In some ways, it demeans what we do. I take this all with a grain of salt. We’ve done a lot in this restaurant, but I find it amusing that this is the thing everyone wants to talk about. At the end of the day, that’s why chefs go on TV.
Q: When the Food Network came calling, you didn’t say ‘yes’ immediately?
A: I went back and forth about it. I’m not a chef shut-in by any means. I like talking to people. I like being in the dining room. But I didn’t want to present my food in a style that wasn’t me. In the end, we presented things on the show in a manner that we were comfortable with.
Q: Did you know Cat Cora already?
A: It was the first time I met her. It was filmed a year ago. And then last December, she was part of our “Twelve Days of Christmas’’ (when 12 renowned chefs pair with 12 Napa Valley vintners for a series of holiday feasts). It was fun. I enjoyed meeting her and her team.
Q: What hint can you give us about the secret ingredient?