MASTER OF TASTE. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian blends personal experiences and professional training in his current culinary repertoire. Photo courtesy of Cignal
MANILA, Philippines — Hospitality is the only cooking philosophy Geoffrey Zakarian lives by.
He cooks so “customers can eat.” His favorite dish to make is anything for two so he can share it.
“It’s in my blood,” he says. He grew up in a Middle Eastern household where they lived and breathed food.
Geoffrey Zakarian began his professional culinary journey in the 80s, when he learned to cook in the kitchens of Paris, London, and New York.
By 1987, he was the Executive Chef at the 21Club, an iconic New York restaurant frequented by the likes of Harrison Ford, Nancy Reagan, George Clooney, Frank Sinatra, and Ernest Hemingway.
In 2001, he opened his first standalone restaurant, Town, which received Three Stars from The New York Times. In 2005, he became the first New York chef to receive 3 triple-star reviews in a row.
Today, Zakarian has firmly established himself as a leader in New York’s upscale food scene. Aside from being a restaurateur, he is also a book author and a celebrity chef. He has appeared in shows like Food Talk, Chopped, The Kitchen, and Iron Chef America. In 2011, he won the 4th season of The Next Iron Chef.
TUNA TARTARE ala CGZ. Zakarian is famous in New York for his fusion cuisine. Photo courtesy of Cignal
On Thursday, March 20, Zakarian is flying to the Philippines for Feast of Colours, a gala dinner organized by Colours TV in partnership with Cignal.
Rappler asked him to share some personal insights on his love affair with food. Here’s what he had to say:
Can you share a favorite dish from your childhood?
My mother’s blueberry pie from scratch was amazing. I still make it today.
What do you consider as comfort food?
For me, it’s really any food that has a memory attached. That’s the most special part, so comfort food can really be anything.
What was the most important lesson that you learned from your first mentor?
Alain [Sailhac, of Le Cirque] taught me the value of hard, back-breaking work and to always be the first one to arrive and the last to leave. To this day, I subscribe.
Did you pick up any useful pointers from your customers?
They are your ultimate line of defense. The last word, so to speak, and we always play close attention.
Do you incorporate other cultures or styles into your cooking?
Yes. I really don’t limit myself in any way. I just search for great flavors and marriages wherever they come from.
SPANISH OCTOPUS ALA PLANCHA. Zakarian's menu is inspired by his travels. Photo courtesy of Cignal
How much of Filipino food are you aware of?
Not much, actually. I had someone introduce me to all kinds of adobo dishes, it’s one of my favorite meals to make.
Your partnership with Colours will benefit Haiyan victims. How do you see food as a tool for healing or bonding?
The most important things in life happen over conversations while eating. We hope to create a huge conversation while we are there!
What does the future hold for you? How would you like to be remembered?
Well, I feel like I have just begun. I want to own a luxury hotel company and continue to build something for my family and their future.
Tickets for Feast of Colours are now available. Buy your tickets online at www.ticketnet.com.ph or at any TicketNet outlets. For inquiries, please call 911-5555. — Rappler.com
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