10 Questions: Jeffery Hobbs

He's come a long way since he first learned to cook, helping his mom both in the garden and kitchen.

Hobbs' resume includes stints at Celebration, Hotel St. Germaine, Toscana, and the Riviera, where he worked alongside chef David Holben. In his first executive chef position, at Il Sole, he earned four and a half stars from the Dallas Morning News.

Five years ago, he teamed up with Gilbert Garza at Suze. The two chefs, along with Lisa Garza, have turned the little shopping center restaurant into an institution. But you'll sometimes catch Hobbs sneaking over to Ball's for a burger...

1. How have you guys managed to keep up the restaurant's reputation so long?
You know, that's a good question. It's not like we focus on keeping the reputation up. We just try to serve things we want to eat ourselves. I know we have a white tablecloth reputation, but we're a little more laid back. Not like Chili's, but laid back.

2. Ever run over to Ball's for a burger?
Heck yeah, man. Ball's does great hamburgers. One of their cooks even works for us now.

3. You have a small kitchen. Ever have to elbow Gilbert out of the way?
No, that's his job. It's tight, but we make it work.

4. Is it a problem, having two name chefs in one place?
No, not at all. I agreed to become his partner in Suze five years ago because we have a similar disposition and outlook. We're happy with how we work together.

5. Did you see Ratatouille?
I was a little taken aback at first by that kitchen scene with all those rats. But I've seen it a couple times.

6. Why aren't there more movies about restaurants?
It's hard for people to translate the work. And I don't know if people are interested in the nastier side of the business. The glamour side has been built to a crescendo by the Food Network. But orders going out wrong, people not showing up for work--I don't know if people want to see it. Hell's Kitchen--I can't watch it.

7. No one wants to see prep work?
I don't even like watching myself do it. The show that gets it best is Top Chef. They do challenges, like when they told contestants that their sous chef called in sick. That's reality. It always happens when you least need it to happen.

8. That's why I wonder about the sanity of professional chefs...
Oh, sure. But there's always crap you have to deal with, no matter what business you're in.

9. If you could cook with one fictional character, it would be...?
Gandolf. We'd be able to deal with anything, easily. And we could get whatever ingredients we wanted.

10. So is there one dish you would love to try to cook?
Um, well, I love the changing of the season and we usually get in whatever I want. But I was always fascinated by the preparation of Peking Duck. I love sushi, but outside of crudo, I don't get to do raw fish. Oh, nairagi--striped marlin. It has orange, opaque flesh. It's unbelievable.

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