Chef Nate Appleman's Culinary Q&A

We checked in with Chef Appleman, one of 10 rival chefs competing on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, to find out his culinary icon, favorite seasonal ingredients, go-to potluck dish and more.

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Who is your culinary icon?
A:
Steve Ells, the founder, co-CEO and chairman of Chipotle Mexican Grill

What's your favorite cookbook written by someone other than yourself? What makes it so great?
A:
All of the River Café cookbooks. The food is timeless and all looks delicious.

What’s your Achilles' heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish?
A:
Cardoons. There is not enough payoff for the amount of work that goes into preparing them.

Give us a favorite seasonal ingredient for each season: summer/fall/winter/spring.
A:
Eggplant in summer, pumpkin in fall, kale in winter and asparagus in spring

What was your most memorable meal? What, where, who — details, please!
A:
Spices Szechuan Trenz. Hospital room the night before my son was born in San Francisco. My wife was in labor for 20 hours, and it was very chaotic and unsettling. Then she got an epidural; everything calmed down and we were able to eat.

What’s the first dish you learned to make really well?
A:
Microwaved tortilla pizza with canned tomato sauce and shredded "cheese."

What’s your signature party or potluck dish to make at home for friends?
A:
Pizza

What music do you like to listen to when you cook?
A:
Hip hop

What’s your favorite "food city" to visit and what do you like to eat there?
A:
Bangkok. Anything that is available.

If you had not become a chef, which profession would you have chosen?
A:
Glass blower

If you have kids, what do you like to cook with your kids?
A:
We like to cook vegetables.

Chef Appleman bested 15 competitors to win the first season of Chopped All-Stars, and he has competed on Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef Season 2.