So the past 20 months, I’ve developed my own culinary language that makes no sense to anyone else. I want to be able to make things crazy fast, so I use the microwave, I use the freezer, and I time myself like a weirdo. Everything’s got to be under 30 or even 15 minutes. And my pantry is the most insanely weird thing most people have ever seen — agave instead of sugar, a good fish sauce, MSG, peppercorns, Momofuku seasoned salts. I don’t know how I would ever live without it because I make so much food now that it’s fun. I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d like cooking at home.
7. Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski Slip RM
I just want something that’s totally easy, and this is a slip-on shoe but it doesn’t look like one. It’s incredibly comfortable, and I don’t think I’m ever going to not wear the shoe, with the exception of special occasions. I’m sure other people are like, “This guy’s insane,” but any shoe you can slip on without touching is, to me, the goal. I would wear flip-flops year-round if that wasn’t so disgusting and people weren’t like, “Don’t be that guy.”
8. David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest”
It’s literally been on my bed stand since 1996, 1997. I’ve started it probably a couple hundred times. I’ve gone halfway through and then started up again a couple of years later, and you’re like, “I have no idea what this is talking about. I’ve got to go back.” I’ve just resigned myself that I will never ever finish that. And I think 80 percent of people are [expletive] lying that they finished it. But for me, it’s a reminder that I need to read more and that there’s a certain kind of book that’s for my intellect level — and that’s not it.
9. Jerry Saltz’s Article on How to Be an Artist
I sent it to everyone in my company because it’s the first time I ever saw anyone write what it felt like to be in this profession of cooking or trying to start a restaurant. It just encapsulates the whole process of finding your voice and dancing naked and all these crazy phrases that you come up with. The things that he wrote about stand the test of time, and it’s great advice for anyone endeavoring to do anything creative. I just love the fact that he did the work so I don’t have to.
10. Matthew Wong
I don’t know anything about art. I’m not going to be a poseur and say, “Yes, I love this period, blah blah blah,” but I felt that his art was truly beautiful. I just thought, “Wow, this guy is doing something different, and for whatever reasons, it’s very moving to me.” And when he took his life, I was so saddened by it.
Man, to me there’s so many people like him, so it’s not just Matthew per se. How many people are out there doing something amazing, but things are not as rosy as they seem? It reminds me that however I talk to someone, however I perceive something, however I come across, it could be important to how someone else takes it. Something like that forces me to never take anything for granted — to really appreciate everything and to know that there are a lot of people out there that need a lot of help, and it’s OK.