Top Chef’s Big Love: Pizza

Original: February 22, 2011 Issue 11

By: Jason Garret

Staff Writer

Jeff Stoneburger has been cooking all over the world for the past six years. He has traveled the world, cooking in some the of the best restaurants, including the Fat Duck in Berkshire England under Heston Blumenthal, and the French Laundry in Napa, Calif.. He’s got a crazy dog that will sleep on you, and if you ever visit his house, watch your back because the place is haunted. His current restaurant McCrady’s, operated by Chef Sean Brock was reviewed by the New York Times.

Brock is known for cooking with very rare, if not formerly-known-as-extinct ingredients, some remnants of

the civil war era.
I recently had some time to visit Stoneburger in Charleston and talk with him about his training and experiences in the restaurant industry under such high profile names.

So Jeff you’ve cooked in some of the best restaurant in the world. Any salt to the ego for you?

As a person who does something as a craft not an art, daily you have to maintain a sense of place…being humble everyday is very important while teaching people to cook the right way, every day.

So we ate at Husk, in Charleston S.C. I mean…it was pretty amazing to me; how would you describe our experience there?

Sam Siften, a restaurant critic for the New York Times is going to review Husk in three days; two sterling reviews in my opinion it will bring 2,500 to 5,000 more visitors to Charleston in the upcoming year. The bourbon we had that was aged 30-some years? That was some serious Bourbon.

How was working at Thomas Keller’s the French laundry?

When you walk in he’s got this quote on the wall that state’s “perfection is an idea that cannot be maintained because it’s digestible.” I separated peas by sizes small, med, large, and used these scissors called “Joycechews” The laundry is inspirational because it builds something inside of you that you’ll be able to teach people the rest of your life.

How was the Fat Duck?

The Fat Duck was very simply a 22-hour grind of mental and physical exhaustion. Weeping while working there was a regularity.

What’s your favorite food and favorite brew?

The thing that brings me more comfort than anything else is pizza. Carbs in general bring euphoria to the brain. Pizza has a wonder of balance not present in any other food, High acidity, herbaceous aroma, salinic lightings, and it has a warm calming affect on any emotional environment.

Is it true the town grows cilantro in the fountains down here?

Yup. They grow cilantro in the fountains.