HC: You're an executive chef, so you really are in the kitchen trenches, making the dishes and creating menus? Or are you just barking orders to people on the line?
CM: I’ve spent my life in the “trenches”, I’m most comfortable there. If I may quote Jay-Z, “You can’t change a players game in the ninth inning." As Executive Chef I strive to be a role model for the department and this requires you to be in the kitchen, not hiding in an office. I want these young chefs to benefit from my experiences and inspire them to achieve whatever their goals in life may be.
HC: Other than yourself, who do *you consider a Hot Chef?
CM: The team of chefs I work with here at Andaz 5th Ave and it’s not just confined to the culinary department either. I’ve never seen such well distributed “hotness”. Our uniform department for instance--it's actually called the "Fashion Room." (HC: We believe it, especially with those new Richard Chai uniforms!) From the General Manager to the vendors we use, everyone associated with this property is extremely hot.
HC:There are a lot of HotelChatter.com readers with crushes on you? What Chef do you have a crush on?
CM: That's a tough one. I'd have to say Umit Kayguz, the executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey. He's my former sous chef with a sexy Turkish accent.
HC: The competition was close and you lost by a hair. What will be your consolation dish to eat and drink?
CM: I eat every day at this great little place right here in midtown called the Family Room. Okay it’s actually our staff cafeteria and you have to work here to eat there, but it’s awesome! Today’s “Deli Day”, so I'm having ham, turkey and Swiss on whole wheat with dijon mustard. I hate yellow mustard. Maybe I’ll pop a bottle (Martinelli's) . . .
HC: Will people be able to score a reservation in a reasonable time after this competition? Looks like people are making plans to come see you.
CM: We’re only 40 seats in the Shop, so I always suggest making reservations well in advance.
Skillet roasted mushrooms, vegetables, leeks, with sunny side eggs, parmesan and anchovies
HC: What's next for you, menu-wise? What are you dreaming of cooking?
CM: I've spent a long time on the West Coast where we have no seasons, so I'm focusing on what's seasonally available on the East Coast. On November 4th we'll be rolling out our winter menu, my first menu change at the hotel. So, there's going to be some slow-cooked and braised meats, winter vegetables like parsnips, carrots and kale as well as ancient grains such as quiona and farrow.
HC: Will you be asking for a raise after this coup? It's a good bargaining tool.
CM: If you love what you do you never work a day in your life, so to answer the question absolutely not! I will however request an extra week-off early next year. I feel obligated to go on a humanitarian mission, not unlike a Miss America, to spread good will, prosperity and hotness to the peoples of the world.
[Photos: Andaz Hotels]