A couple months ago I decided to reach out to some chefs and ask them to play a game of “Would you rather?” with me for publication in the Herald Sun.
Almost every chef said yes. Just like always, when I ask for help, they jump right in with both feet. Not counting their grub, the very best thing about food folk is unfailing generosity. Along with gallows humor and potty mouth, it’s a trait common to the breed.
This week two chefs will be playing; Chef Jason Cunningham executive chef of the Washington Duke Inn (3001 Cameron Blvd, Durham), and Chef Tanya Catolos, chef/owner of the late, lamented Daisy Cakes.
What follows are the questions, and their answers, just as they wrote them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
1.) Would you rather eat fast food every day for a year, or never eat mushrooms again?
Chef Jason- I could never eat fast food every day so I would miss my mushrooms.
Chef Tanya- Never eat mushrooms again.
2.) Would you rather give up eating pork forever or never cook with butter again?
Chef Jason- I can cook without butter but I can’t give up pork and I would still eat butter.
Chef Tanya- Give up pork.
3.) Would rather lose your sense of taste or smell?
Chef Jason- This is just impossible.
Chef Tanya- Taste.
4.) Would you rather have a nut allergy or egg allergy?
Chef Jason- Nuts.
Chef Tanya- If it were one nut, then nuts but if it were all nuts then egg allergy.
5.) Would you rather never bake again, or never fry?
Chef Tanya-Never fry again.
6.) Would you rather eat creme brûlée or candy bars?
Chef Jason- Creme brûlée side by side on a table but I love a good chocolate bar.
Chef Tanya- Creme brûlée
7.) Would you rather only use frozen fish sticks or instant grits?
Chef Jason- I can’t stand fish sticks.
Chef Tanya- Instant grits…I guess.
8.) Would you rather give up pasta or potatoes?
Chef Jason- Again impossible.
Chef Tanya- Potatoes
9.) Would you rather smell like Limburger cheese or durian fruit?
Chef Jason- Durian topped with Limburger- all in or nothing…
Chef Tanya- Cheese.
10.) Eating alone–would you rather read or watch TV?
Chef Jason-Watch TV.
11.) Would you rather never have mayo again or mustard; to eat and cook?
Chef Jason- Mayo but I would probably end up making mayo using my mustard.
Chef Tanya- Mayo.
12.) Would you rather give up beer or doughnuts?
Chef Jason- Doughnuts.
13.) Would you rather become a vegetarian, or only eat processed meat?
Chef Jason- If a choice between Vegetarian and SPAM/SCRAPPLE I’m going vegetarian (though I would cheat).
Chef Tanya- Vegetarian.
14.) Would you rather give up your favorite food, or never try anything new again?
Chef Jason- I would certainly find a new favorite if I were able to try new things.
Chef Tanya- Give up favorite food.
15.) Would you rather cook for the president, or other chefs?
Chef Jason- Chefs.
Chef Tanya- Other chefs
It’s funny what you can learn about each chef, by the way they answer the questions.
Almost universally, they eschew fast food. And enjoy beer. Bakers won’t let anybody get between them and butter. And no matter their political bent, they all love cooking for others of their own ilk.
With short hair, almost military posture, and a quiet, low-key presence, Chef Jason strikes one as a serious, law & order kind of guy. Who knew he has the soul of a pirate? He can’t live by your rules, man!
But both chefs have a wide adventurous streak. I think the worst thing that could happen to these guys, or any chef really, is inertia. The best way to make a really unhappy food person is to put the brakes on learning and experimentation. They’re like sharks; when sharks stop swimming, they die. When chefs can’t evolve, they become cranky, and eventually wither.
Thanks for your time.