Interview: chef Edward Lee (610 Magnolia + MilkWood)

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Who else do you look to, in the restaurant industry, for inspiration, guidance or advice?

Honestly, every single chef I’ve ever met has been an impact on me, small or large. Every restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, or gone and cooked at, I’ve learned at least one thing. I think that’s part of what we do as chefs, no matter how old you are, or experienced, you go into a kitchen or you go into a menu and you kind of, you have to remain inquisitive. I learn stuff all the time, every event I ever do, and that’s what’s so mind-boggling about it. As much homework as you can do, there’s still more to learn. So I don’t know if I can single anyone out, pretty much everyone I’ve ever met has had an influence on me.

You talk about developing a philosophy, at what point did you know that you had a philosophy, or how far along are you in that thinking?

It ch”anges. Some days I wake up and I’m like, “This is all crap, there’s nothing behind this. And some days you wake up and everything is so clear in your head, about what it is. But I think I’ve always had a philosophy of cooking. It’s always just been kind of gaining the knowledge, experience and the confidence to put it out there in the world. It’s one thing to have an opinion, it’s another thing to sort of have the technique and the courage to put it out there to be criticized by the world. I think a lot of that is just maturity and experience, and doing it enough times. And respect by your peers, I think that counts for a lot.


When people think of Edward Lee, what would you want them to think?

I don’t know. Guy who sings really good karaoke?

Do you find that you are able to achieve some semblance of balance in your life?

Nah. But I gave that up a long time ago. Bottom line is, I think people in this industry, you get certain moments like I don’t want balance. I like my life as upside down and busy crazy as it is. I love getting up in the morning and having nothing on my itinerary, and by 9:30 am my schedule is full. It’s fun, it keeps me alive, keeps me feeling that there’s so much to do. I wish I had more hours in the day to accomplish what I wanted to do.

Is there anything that you don’t enjoy eating?

Very little. Chain restaurant stuff, you know, for obvious reasons. But no, I’m pretty much into everything. I can’t say I’ll turn my nose at anything. Even like raw food, the whole vegan movement, it’s fascinating to me. It’s the furthest thing, I couldn’t disagree with that food more, you know, but I love food, I love eating it. Fascinating. Everyone has a different sort of piece of the puzzle to lend, so, no, I’ll eat everything, I love it all.

What was the last meal that you cooked at home?

I cook a lot at home. I put on quite a few pounds during my wife’s pregnancy, we have a seven-month old baby at home, so our life is now about trying to lose the weight that we put on. I put on a lot of sympathy weight, so we’ve been cooking mostly vegetables and stuff at home. We just did a kind of lightly marinated roasted eggplant. We just kind of cook vegetables all the time at home now, so it’s been fun. I love cooking with vegetables because they’re so different and so diverse, and each vegetable has a different way of cooking it.

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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