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10 Questions: Jeff Harris of Craft

When chef Anthony Zappola left for Craft in Los Angeles, the restaurant promoted Harris to the top spot.

Formerly sous chef in Tom Colicchio's Dallas outpost, Harris arrived from Craft New York, where he had been working since graduating from culinary school--also in the Big Apple. Yet oddly enough, he's an east Texas native. After finishing up at UNT, he took a job at a Longview bank.

But that's before culinary school beckoned. Now Harris is 32 and in charge of Craft and the W Hotel's kitchen--two fashionable names. Speaking of appearance, just what does he think of Colicchio's bald head...?

1. So when two chefs leave, do you get that abandoned feeling?
Not really. They were looking for new challenges. And I've been with Craft for awhile. I know the system.

2. But is there suddenly more pressure?
A little bit. There's always more pressure when you step into a roll like this. You have to do interviews, be more the face of the restaurant. The cooking's the same.

3. So what's Tom Colicchio like?
He's really laid back. He looks you in the eye when he's talking to you, he's nice and just laid back. But he demands a lot, too. And he promotes from within. That's why I've been with Craft so long.

4. Wouldn't he look better with Guy Fieri hair?
Tom? I don't know. A lot of people love that bald head.

5. Do room service guests make strange requests?
Not really. It depends. I mean, some order burgers so they can eat and watch TV in their pajamas, others order huge meals. Depends.

6. Is it really difficult, to handle both the hotel and restaurant?
There's definitely more responsibility. You have to be really organized. We serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight requests. This kitchen never closes.

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7. So when the overnight guy calls in sick, the first thing you say is always pleasant, right?
Not at all. But this is what I asked for. It's always exciting. That's why I quit the desk job.

8. Do you have a favorite thing to cook?
I don't really have a favorite. It's just whatever's in season and real simple when I cook at home.

9. How 'bout least favorite?
Oh, man--not really. It's not about cooking, but I did try durian--to eat. It was stinky and custardy. I don't think I'd go back for seconds.

10. So you like exploring?
There's definitely some places I haven't traveled that I'd love to see. I'm saving money--I want to go to Barcelona. Also, I've never been to Hong Kong. I hear street food there is amazing. You know, when I get off work, I always watch Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. I love that show. If he's in Asia, I'm hungry.

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