This is part of NRN’s special coverage of the 2012 NRA Show. The show is held in Chicago, May 5-8. Follow all coverage on NRN’s ‘At the Show' section, check out NRN blogs, Reporter's Notebook, and Tweet with us using #NRNatNRA.
Former “Top Chef” contestant Stefan Richter thinks the food truck trend is over.
“It was exciting two years ago,” he said. “Now it’s super boring. Who wants to have lunch next to a dumpster by a truck in a shady alley?”
So opined the chef of many strong opinions at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel show in Chicago on Monday.
Richter, who is known for his restaurant L.A. Farm in Los Angeles as well as three delis across the U.S., was demonstrating a mashed potato and foie gras dish using a Vitamix blender at the show’s World Culinary Showcase.
The chef also has three restaurants in Finland, where he is from originally, and he is opening a steakhouse in Moscow.
Richter said the economy is looking up and sales at his U.S. restaurants are up 12 percent over last year.
The chef called up Tiffany Bock, a chef from the restaurant Brix in Omaha, Neb., to assist him during the demonstration. After the show, she mentioned that a co-worker had lost a case of beer by betting on him to win “Top Chef.”
Richter apologized for losing and handed Bock a $20 bill to pass on to the co-worker. “Tell him to buy a case on me,” he said.
Beyond food trucks, the chef shared his thoughts on a few other hot topics:
Molecular gastronomy: “It’s not my cup of tea,” he said. “Who wants to eat a 10-course menu only made out of plastic?”
Richter said he prefers a well-roasted chicken with “herbs up his butt” and a couple of roasted potatoes.
How to be a leader in the kitchen: “I have learned something: Without your staff, you can’t do it," he said. "A ‘yes’ and a ‘please’ and a ‘thank you’ costs you nothing. As soon as you start kicking people around, they shut down.”
Favorite food city: “New York,” he said. “It’s not L.A. I love L.A. but it’s not as foodie oriented as New York. You have a lot of actors working as waiters. You just don’t have the quality of staff.”
Fusion cuisine: “Why mix salmon with pineapple? There are enough weird fish in Hawaii you can add pineapple to.”