How to Drink & Cook Like a Celebrity

From Moby and Tom Colicchio to Nathan Myhrvold, this year we interviewed a range of celebrities about their own cooking and drinking rules and philosophies. No two of the answers were the same and the stories often revealed a very personal side of these stars that is rarely seen and gave insight into their everyday routines.   

Read on for a selection of some of my favorite Drinking and Cooking Rules answers from 2017.

Some chefs are strict about measuring ingredients, others not so much. Which camp do you fall into? “No, no, no. I’m not a chef that measures. In fact, when I was young I most likely would have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and I couldn’t follow recipes. They would freak me out. And when I got Jacques Pépin’s La Technique it completely changed my life. I was 15, 16 years old when I got it. Because he stressed this idea where you just focus on technique and don’t worry about recipes. We hardly use recipes in my kitchen. I just teach technique.”-Tom Colicchio

Do you watch any food TV shows today? “Not really. I do occasionally watch Rick Bayless or somebody on PBS. I watch Anthony Bourdain on CNN because he’s a good friend, but honestly, I don’t watch too much food TV. So many of them are reality shows with a lot of yelling that I don’t like so much anyway.”-Jacques Pépin

Can you share the single most important piece of advice you have for someone looking to throw a memorable party?Great people, great music, and a lot of alcohol. Try to never run out of food, and never run out of alcohol. People make a lot of fuss out of entertaining but I think the buildup is worse than it really is. It doesn’t even matter what your stuff looks like. The devil’s in the details: You can literally just pour Coca-Cola in a glass but add a lime wedge. You can order delivery and serve it on the nice china.”-Molly Sims

Currently, what’s in your liquor cabinet? “I’m looking at it right now. It’s quite mental how much whisky there is. There’s Talisker and Highland Park and Glenlivet and Laphroaig. And then we’ve got one from the Scottish Malts Society, which is Sangria on the Terrace 986, whatever that means. All the whiskies made by the Malt Society have got these most incredible names. We always have vodka. We always have Myers’s Rum in case we want a Dark ‘n Stormy. Oooh, there’s a Glenmorangie. We always have pisco. We always have tequila. That’s basically our basics, we don’t really go much fancier than that.”-Shirley Manson

How important is it to you to eat with your family? “We try as much as possible. I’ll say this to my grave, if we could just please get more people to the dinner table, families, friends, politicians…But if we could actually sit down and take the time to eat dinner and break bread literally with people, a lot of these problems we have in this world would go away.”-Ming Tsai

Out of all the cakes you’ve made in your career, which one are you most proud of? “I’m a huge nerd. I love sci-fi. We got to make a life-size, working R2-D2 cake for [Star Wars creator] George Lucas and present it to him. For me, that was pretty special. To be able to say thank you to him with some of my best work, it really felt great. It was so cool, and he loved it.”-Duff Goldman

Do you ever drink hard alcohol? “I used to do a shot of bourbon before a show because it kind of opened me up, but I used to get too drunk. I remember there was one performance I did with Nicki Minaj on the American Music Awards, and I remember sitting down at the piano about to do the show, and I realized how drunk I was, and I started freaking out inside.”-Skylar Grey

Apron or no apron? “You know what? I actually wear an apron. Chefs always wore a uniform but now we just see chefs in their t-shirts with a cool apron on. I miss the days of wearing a uniform. At heart, I’m a line cook. I kind of miss the chef coat because when I put that on then I’m on. But I have to say, when I’m at home and I’m cooking I do like having an apron on. I do. It just feels right. When you’re done and you sit down at the table you take your apron off.”-Amanda Freitag

Does Jerry have any Seinfeldian food tics in real life? Like a love of big salads, black-and-white cookies, and marble rye? “That was a television show and he lives in real life.”-Jessica Seinfeld

What music do you listen to when you’re cooking? “We have a rule at Little Pine—and I’ve asked Ravi to have the same rule at Ladybird—which is please don’t play any of my music. I’m narcissistic enough without having my restaurant play my own music! Maybe this is sad middle-aged bachelor music but, when I’m at home, I listen to a lot of classical music, and old folk-rock—Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell. Something about folk-rock in L.A. just seems to make sense. You listen to [Joni Mitchell’s album] Ladies of the Canyon in L.A., and it just makes sense.”-Moby

How is designing a stadium that seats tens of thousands like designing a bar that seats at most a couple hundred? “It has to do with the premium experience. In any modern stadium, there are different spaces. Some are concourses that hold 25,000 people; some are private clubs and other spaces for VIPs that are much smaller than that. One of the things we spend a lot of time thinking about is what makes spaces special and different from one another. The stadium needs to have a significant draw for all the people in the city. We were able to take a premium design and experience and translate it to this bar. It’s not like a stadium bar; it’s more like a West End bar in London. Our experiences going to those types of bars, frankly, helped us bring this together into a complete design.”-David Manica

Do you hang out with Adam Levine and the other The Voice judges after a day of shooting? “Man, we are together ALL DAY when we are filming The Voice! I don’t want to hang out with those people when I’m done! No, I’m kidding. We definitely hang out here and there; it just depends on everyone’s schedule, but whenever we do, we have a lot of fun together.”-Blake Shelton

How big is your spice rack at home? “Here’s the thing, I weened it out a lot because you need to replace your spices every six months. My spice cupboard is pretty serious. Spices and herbs are what I rely on day in and day out to make simple preparations that feel really celebratory and indulgent without having to change the process too much. One of my favorite spice blends, I literally stole from a spice nut mix that found in England that used rosemary and thyme and brown sugar and cumin and nigella seeds. It’s sick and twisted. It’s so good. That little hit of brown sugar in with all the spice is pretty nice.”-Daphne Oz

When you’re at home in L.A., do you cook a lot? “I do. I garden. I have an herb garden and right now I’m growing three different kinds of lettuce and arugula and some hot peppers and some tomatoes. [I have] kumquat trees, avocado trees, Meyer lemon trees and orange trees. It’s a small garden but it’s what I have time to grow.”-Darby Stanchfield

How can someone serve great drinks for a party without spending the whole night behind the bar? “You have to pick a drink that works well in large batches. If you have to do something like shake an egg white each time, that’s not realistic. With a larger group, you’ve gotta go with pitcher cocktails. That’s gotta be pre-mixed. But with a smaller group, individual drinks are possible. One of the things I love about entertaining a small group is you can have a conversation in the kitchen while you’re cooking or making drinks.”-Ali Larter

You’re from an Italian family and your books include a lot of Italian recipes; is it your favorite type of food to eat and cook? “When it comes to eating, I really love Italian-American and classic Americana, big-time. Lasagna, a Reuben; that’s my jam. I’m also a closet vegetarian part-time. When I was growing up, my father did a ton of stuff with veggies that really influenced me. For cooking, I’m all about the Frenchies. French food may not be chic right now, but it’s timeless and it always comes back into style. Team Frenchie!”-Alex Guarnaschelli

What do you like to drink? “I am a whiskey drinker. My all-time favorite used to be Black Maple Hill Bourbon, but now they’ve changed it and it’s no longer the same. I enjoy bourbons, but I don’t drink rye. I’m also not really a Scotch drinker—I don’t think I’m sophisticated or cool enough for it. I have a lot because people give it to me as gifts, but I don’t like the smoky flavor. If I’m just at a sporting event or out at a bar, I’ll drink Crown Royal and ginger ale.”-Brian Baumgartner

Why do you think oversized dishes are so popular? “There’s sort of a spectacle and an awe factor. But I also think food as conquest is interesting to people. One thing we try to emphasize is that these are supposed to be shared. It’s a great way to bring people together around food. A lot of times, it’s also a cheaper way to get a big group of people something to eat! What we’re really trying to highlight with the show is how much these bring people together and become a tourist attraction and something to do. It’s like a quest: People decide to get together and knock down a giant dish. Everybody watches the show and goes, ‘I want to see that in person!’”-Josh Denny

You were one of the first people to be called a “celebrity chef,” but today the title is nearly ubiquitous. How do you feel about the concept of chefs as celebrities? “If you believe Anthony Bourdain, I was the first celebrity chef, but that’s just because I’m the oldest! Like the food revolution, that’s all worked very well, and now you have big food celebrities, much bigger than I am. But the problem is that now chefs think that in order to be a success, they work a few years and then get a show on TV. You have to spend some time learning how to do it, and it’s more than a year or two. They get distracted by the thought of becoming famous.”-Jeremiah Tower

Do you have a favorite drink to make? “A Martini. The Martini is one of my absolute favorite cocktails, and I think it often doesn’t get diluted enough. It should be this silky, delicious cocktail. The secret to a perfect Martini is don’t be afraid to overdilute it. You have to get it to that very, very perfect point of just-before-overdilution. I pay close attention to the ratio of ingredients and how long I stir. My preferred ratio for a Martini is 50/50: I think equal parts Beefeater Gin and dry vermouth is perfection.”-Mony Bunni

When you’re on the road with your First Take colleagues, Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith, do you guys have favorite bars or restaurants you like to visit? “Honestly, I wish I could say that we did. There’s literally no time for it. We’re just trying to get a meal in. You’re just trying to find time to eat. For the three of us, it’s a lot of room service.”-Molly Qerim

Do you have any cake-decorating tips for home bakers? “I think that there are some materials out there that people don’t know about. Modeling chocolate completely changed my life. You can order it online, but you can also make your own: You just melt down chocolate and add corn syrup, but you have to use a very specific ratio. Try working with modeling chocolate to make little sculptures—cupcake toppers and the like. It’s kind of like Play-Doh; it’s easy to mold, and to blend separate pieces together. From there, you can start testing out different materials like fondant to see what works for you. It’s difficult, but you’ll get better.”-Natalie Sideserf

Given your extensive career in television, would you ever produce a spirits or wine show? “I’ve been dying to do that. I’ve been pitching Food Network on a spirits show for ten years. When you start talking about the punt of the bottle and various terminology that’s connected, they think it scares the viewer. I don’t think so. I would love to be the first guy to have a spirits show on Food Network. It’s time. There’s no question it’s time.”-Marc Summers

What does your home kitchen look like? “A bit like the lab kitchen. To be honest, I don’t think there’s any equipment in there that would be in a ‘normal’ home kitchen! I have a Thirode stove from France, two combi ovens, two French deck ovens for making bread, a huge cold-smoker, a sous-vide vacuum packer and a bunch of sous vide machines.”-Nathan Myhrvold

What’s the hardest part of soul food to master? “I think it’s the long simmer. I am from Nashville, so I feel like I grew up with this food. I think the hardest thing for me is to try to convey this to somebody else who isn’t from the south or even out west. I think the misnomer is that all soul food comes from the south. It doesn’t. We have New Orleans, which is its own thing, but you also have up north, you have out west. You have different types of soul food.”-Carla Hall

There were some tough episodes of What Not to Wear, your old show, when you and your co-host Stacy London had a drink to unwind. Was the alcohol real? “That was real alcohol. I think we were drinking bourbon during those [scenes]. It was usually the last shot of the day and we had a couple sips of bourbon before heading home.”-Clinton Kelly

What’s your signature drink? “My favorite drink is the one somebody is buying for me. That’s really the truth.”-Guy Fieri

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