A Chat with Chef and Food Network Personality Geoffrey Zakarian

His mother’s cast iron holds a place of honor in Geoffrey Zakarian’s home kitchen, a tribute to the meals she created daily from local ingredients in Worcester, MA. “I grew up on farm-to-table long before it was fashionable,” says Zakarian. After a post-college year in Paris, an appreciation of French cuisine led him to the Culinary Institute of America, followed by jobs in many of New York City’s preeminent restaurants, and eventual ownership of the acclaimed Town and Country restaurants, plus the National in Greenwich. 

A winner of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs, Zakarian enjoys appearing on the Food Network as a judge of Chopped and hosting other shows. “I love reaching so many people and teaching,” he says. Fans of his signature NTL meatballs with Sunday gravy and marinated ricotta look forward to the reopening of his Greenwich restaurant. Damaged by a fire, it has been fully renovated and renamed the National Italian. 

What’s your favorite music to cook to? Frank Sinatra

How often do you cook at home and what do you make? Breakfast five days a week. You name it: frittatas, eggs, pancakes, omelettes. Egg dishes and more.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Champagne—I couldn’t live without it. 

What’s a dish you savor remembering? An avocado and grapefruit salad in Paris at Voltaire—how simple, perfect and satisfying it was—the location, the taste…the memory it created.

What is your favorite scent? The scent of garlic and bacon frying in butter.

What’s an essential kitchen item? Every kitchen should have a sous vide, cooking foods in a plastic bag in a constant temperature water bath. It’s very efficient; it used to be available only in restaurants. Now every cook should have one.

What’s your favorite restaurant—other than your own? Right now, Kappo Masa.

What’s your favorite foodie movie? Babette’s Feast. That beautiful movie, set in the 1800s where a woman won the lottery and spent every dollar on a beautiful meal that transformed her guests. 

Which three people would you like to invite to dinner? And what would you serve? Keith Jarrett, Sean Connery and Martha Stewart. All the same: Dom Perignon, grilled Dover sole and lemon soufflé.