Restaurant Insider Store Restaurant Insider Store

Tablecraft Firm Grip Grater And Zester - E5615

Vollrath Tomato Pro Cutter Straight Blades 1/4 - 0644N

40 Gallon Double Electric Mixer Steam Kettle

80 Gallon Double Electric Mixer Steam Kettle

AZWood 11 inch W x 22 inch D Unfinished Mount to Shelf

Aero Stainless Steel Work Table w/ Gal. Steel Shelf

100 Gallon Direct Steam Mixer Steam Kettle

40 Gallon Double Direct Steam Mixer Steam Kettle

Chef Profile: Johnny Iuzzini

by Matt DeLucia

Who are some of your favorite pastry chefs in New York, and whom did you learn the most from as you were developing your talent?
My favorite pastry chefs in New York are also good friends of mine. Sam Mason at WD-50, Alex Grunert at Bouley and Sébastien Rouxel at Per Se. They are all very talented, modest, and down to earth. The chefs I’ve learned the most from are Francois Payard, Thomas Haas, Jean Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud. Each gives their heart and soul to what they do. They have so much passion and knowledge, yet their styles couldn’t be more different from each other. Working for such talents has allowed me to develop my own style based on bits and pieces from each one.

When do you find time to come up with new creations now?
I am definitely not that guy who goes home and thinks up new creations. I need to play with food and combinations to make new things. I don’t just dream them up. Sometimes when we go out to eat and I taste a cool combination, I go back with those flavors in my mind, but start from scratch on how to build the dish. A lot of times we get inspired by the local farmers and markets. For example, recently I started working with Bee Raw honey, a small company that specializes in artisan honeys from across the country. They have amazing honeys that I have never been exposed to.

What new flavors/ingredients have you been experimenting with lately?
I think the wave of “molecular gastronomy” will definitely influence the direction of my food in the future. The key is learning to use the ingredients in a way to not only achieve a texture or product that you normally couldn’t get without them, but to increase the “deliciousness” of the dish. Otherwise it just becomes a gimmick.

How did you get involved with the Share Our Strength “Chefs on tour for hunger” campaign?
My very good friend Chef Brad Thompson of Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician Resort in Arizona is very benevolent with his time and talent. He is the one who got me into doing events for charities such as Share Our Strength and The TJ Martell Foundation. I feel that if chefs can join forces to raise money for good causes, I want to be a part of it.

You have a reputation for being a bit of a prankster. Do you think your sense of humor comes out to some degree in your dessert creations?
I definitely do. I am a pretty playful person so of course it will show in my food. I’m not talking about circus desserts but I may take chances that others wouldn’t. I feel as though I have the best of both worlds. I have a strong French training yet I don’t wear their blinders. I am still an American; I like to think in new directions.

I read in a 2003 interview that said, quote “Food network is calling and book deals are imminent.” Have you pursued any of those “star chef” type avenues?
I’ve made some appearances on the Food Network as well as other networks. I have fun doing that. As far as my own show, I would consider it but it couldn’t be a plain cooking show. I am way too hyper for that! The show would have to be built around my personality. Everything falls into place in time, there’s no rush. I did recently go into contract with Clarkson Potter to do my first book, however. I am super excited about that, it will mark a great point in my career as well as pay homage to all the great chefs I have worked for.

Any stories you’d like to share in that sort of vein? Maybe a preview into a story from your book, “Dessert 4 Play?”
I remember when I was working at Payard and I was in charge of the cake station. We were buried one Saturday and I had to do a large chocolate wedding cake on top of it, so my assistant set up the cakes for glazing and after I finished glazing all the small ones I did the large ones. The cake was beautiful when it left Payard and it arrived safely. A few hours later the people from the wedding thanked Francois for the cake and said it was great, except they were having problems cutting it. Puzzled, Francois asked what the problem was. It turned out that when I glazed the cake, I didn’t notice that I had left the acetate strips on the sides. I guess both my assistant and I assumed the other removed them. Needless to say, Francois chased me around the kitchen screaming in French for a good couple of days. Lesson learned: never assume.

Someone once said that if you’re a pastry chef looking for recognition you must “get out of the restaurant and behind the shadow of the chef, especially if that person is a chef/owner.” Do you agree with that?
I don’t believe that. It’s very difficult to make your name in this business, especially when you are in a big city like New York. The key is to just put your head down and push. Make the best product you can make and eventually you will be noticed no matter where you work or who you work for. I have worked for some of the biggest names in the industry. You just have to be patient and wait your turn. The other alternative is to take the short cut and pay for your press. Those people know who they are!!

Are you getting free reign to try new things here (JG) more than you were at Daniel?
That’s true I definitely have more ground for experimentation at JG than I did when I was the pastry chef at Daniel. Keep in mind though that the restaurants are very different from each other. Daniel is based more on Classic French cookery, while Jean Georges pushes the envelope by tying different cultures into his food. It is apples to oranges. They are both at the top of their game.

What are your future projects, and the direction of your profession in general?
I definitely have the itch to have my own business. Every day I am one day closer but the toughest part is finding the right partner. A good friend gave me some advice. “Money is cheap in New York, but the key to being successful is finding the right partner that will stand beside you and support you through the years.” My business will mirror my personality and background.

This website designed by Business Edge. Click here for Restaurant Website design information