Got 5 On it - Tom Pizzica aka "Big Chef"
Wow, thats a tough one because I believe that environment, mood and appetite dictate what a fantastic meal is. The food is sometimes secondary to your state of being at the time the meal is eaten. This is just a disclaimer because I don’t want anybody judging me when I tell you that one of my top meals was Kraft Mac n cheese in the back of a Chevy Blazer in the rain.
- Might as well start with that one. Me and my boy had to bag a 5 day hiking trip due to weather and we returned to my blazer, after 18 hours on the trail, with everything soaking and our bodies close to hypothermia. We climb in the back of my blazer and fire up the little coleman camping stove..we make kraft Mac and Cheese and had Swiss Miss hot chocolate (with marshmallows) for dessert. It was so warm and homey after such a brutal 18 hours that I pretty much just melted into a coma.
- Another great meal was one I had in Ocean City, NJ at my family’s house. It was a few days before I left on my epic road trip to San Francisco and I had about 10 really good friends around. We got a bunch of wine, corn on the cob and king crab legs and had an all you can eat feast Red Lobster would have been Jealous of! so magical with great friends, good booze and clarified butter. To top it off, we found a bottle of Johnny Blue in my dads liquor cabinet and killed that as well.
- Alright, I guess I need to get to a great restaurant meal now huh? that would have to be when I worked at breakfast at the Campton Place hotel in San Francisco. The chef at the time was Daniel Humm now of 11 Madison in NYC and Chef De Cuisine was now Michelin Star owner Christopher Kostow. After 6 months of employment at Campton you got what is known as “the Campton Experience” which consisted of a nights stay at the hotel and dinner in the restaurant. Well, being a kitchen employee and friends with everybody back there, me and my wife got the most incredible experience ever. Foie gras creme brulee, the most unbelievable snapper sushimi where the manager shaved us fresh wasabi..I mean, fresh wasabi! you never see that! I was so spent at the end of our 12 course.
- Let’s talk firsts. I have to rank a meal I had in Quebec as a 10 year old kid as one of the best simply because it was the first time I ever had French Onion Soup. Oh...my...Oh...my...If you are ten years old and fat, A bowl of caramelized onions in beef broth with garlic bread floating on top smothered in Gruyere Cheese is pretty much as close to heaven as you can get! And it still is at 33 and fat!
- I think I have to go back to my childhood again. I went to summer camp in New Hampshire and one night for dinner the “chef” made a pretty loose beef stew and corn bread. For some reason her stew with the corn bread was the most amazing combination I ever had and one that I have yet to repeat. I mean, you would take a bite of the stew and immediately crave the corn bread and then you would eat the corn bread and immediately crave the stew..its was an amazing cycle and one I will never forget.
Top 5 Meals to cook for a special someone
This is kind of a no-brainer for me because I love to cook for special someones all the time (I have no idea what that means)
- Duck confit with shaved caramelized brussels sprouts and grapefruit marmalade
- Chorizo stuffed quail with mustard spaetzle, sauteed spinach and garlic jus
- Pasta with a red primavera (just cause its my wife’s favorite)
- Marinated portobello stuffed roasted chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and red onion
- Tempura fried black bass with apple dijon sauce and spaghetti squash almondine
Top Five Jams to play while cooking for said special someone
- Eddie Money “Shakin”
- Phoenix “Rally”
- American Babies “Invite All your Friends”
- Afroman “Tall Cans”
- Bruce Springsteen “Brilliant Disguise”
Top Five Guilty Pleasure Food or Snack
- Cool Ranch Doritos
- Anything McDonalds makes
- Microwave soft pretzels
- Hamburger Helper
Top 5 slept on ingredients
- Lemon zest
- Rendered pork fat
- Great olive oil
Former executive chef of the Front Room Restaurant at the Imperial Hotel in Chestertown, Md. After 15 years in the kitchen, He took a hiatus from restaurant work and became a finalist on The Next Food Network Star Season 6. There he developed his "Big Chef" persona and currently is the host of "Outrageous Food" on the Food Network. Tom also made a hell of a pick with tarragon for a slept on ingredients and has a distaste for Matt Dillon.