I wasn’t lying about posting this interview eventually – I just couldn’t find the right time. But after an evening of nothing but a slice of ham and a few bits of pecorino, instead of my boring dinner, I’ll share the interview.
What you need to know about Chef John: officially John Mitzewich, he started his career by completing a course in culinary arts/chef training (that sounds so good, doesn’t it?) and was also named “Outstanding Chef Training Student” at his university in 1983. Which sounds pretty awesome too. (I am quoting Wikipedia – should you wish to learn more about Chef John’s career, you can read all about it here.)
He then worked as a chef instructor for five years before he decided to go and teach all of us to cook on YouTube. His channel has, at present, almost 640 000 followers, and that isn’t even his blog , which probably has a lot more.
The website, FoodWishes, gains its name from the fact, surprisingly, that Chef John will cook whatever his viewers wish for. From the world’s most perfect grilled cheese sandwich (the first recipe I ever saw from him!) to beautiful roast chickens á la Julia Child, he will just about cook anything you (we) can think of.
The interesting thing about Chef John’s videos is not only the clear and specific demonstration/explanation of techniques and recipes – it is also the good sense of humour that makes the videos just as fun to watch for people who cook as for those who don’t. With an attitude of shoulder shrugging and “it will all be okay”, he takes viewers to the level of cooking where there’s nothing to be afraid of. He really is a loveable, down-to-Earth chef and a pleasure to cook along to. Definitely have a look at his website if you ever need inspiration!
I emailed Chef John with pretty much no hope of getting a reply – I mean, I am simply an aspiring writer, not anyone who can bring him any more publicity. Also, we are situated almost at two different corners of the world, which for me makes it all the more difficult to imagine that someone on the other side will read my email. However, he got back to me on the very same day and accepted to do a quick interview, and here it is: the ultimate thunderbolt interview with John Mitzewich!
Q: First of all: what is your all time favourite recipe, why, since when, where did you learn it?
A: I get asked all the time, and I can never answer. I honestly don’t have a favourite recipe! My favourite meal would probably be a simple roast chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes, but no favourite single recipe.
Q: As of now (15/11/13 20:30 GMT) you have 633,817 followers on YouTube, and that is just YouTube. How do you decide what you’ll cook for all of your hungry viewers next?
A: Just on what people are requesting and what’s in season.
Q: It’s the season to be jolly (or soon will be). What is your typical Christmas menu?
A: Usually some kind of roasted meat. Prime rib maybe, or a leg of lamb and a lasagne.
Q: And last, but not least: what are your three top tips for aspiring cooks?
A: 1. Spend your money on a couple very expensive and top quality knives and pans, and they will last you a lifetime. You only need a few of each, so don’t waste money on large mediocre cookware sets.
2. Don’t use written recipes when you are learning to cook. That’s not cooking, that’s reading directions.
3. Put a tiny dash of cayenne in almost all savory dishes. You won’t even taste the heat, but it opens your palette, and it also has amazing medicinal properties.
And there you have it: ladies and gentleman, Chef John!
And to all a good night!