Each week (or thereabout) we track down a chef for a few burning questions. This week, chef Kenny Mills at Chop House Burgers and the new Chop House Steaks and Seafood in central Arlington was willing to participate. He shares with us a creative way to find unique recipes, a gnarly kitchen disaster and one really crazy customer request.
What are a few of your favorite cookbooks? I really like to go to estate sales and find that old dusty Betty Crocker Cookbooks with grandma's handwritten notes or the little index cards with handwritten recipes. Published cookbooks, I like Blue Ginger by Ming Tsai, Southwest Taste by Robert Del Grande and Les Halles by Anthony Bourdain.
Most important tip for cooking a proper steak? Start with good quality grass-fed local beef.
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What's the biggest disaster you've ever created in a kitchen? The first time I cooked for my family (about 12 years old) I put so much pepper in the dish my dad took one bite, spit it out and left the table. As a chef probably a pizza with goat cheese, pesto and arugula. Kind of a soapy flavor.
What's the worst thing you ever found in the walk-in, like something you forgot was back there? Since I like dry-aged beef, I'm no stranger to mold in a fridge, but several years ago we were soaking a cow's head in a pot to make tamales and everyone thought everyone else took care of it. When we did find it and pulled it from its murky water it was NOT pretty.
What's the craziest request you've ever gotten from a diner? Raw steak with a raw egg. He made his version of steak tartare.
What are a few of your greatest food shames -- like hot dogs at QT or tacos from Jack in the Box? Things that as an accomplished chef you shouldn't like, but do anyway. Funny you would say QT, I love the jalapeño cheese hot dogs and a bag of Lay's. I also have a soft spot for Spam and banana fudgesicles.