After a shift what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat? “Salt and vinegar potato chips and a zippy white wine.”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “I really cannot think of anything I won’t cook—unless it is something like shark fin soup. There are some things that just should not be on the menu.”
All-time favorite spice. “Probably cinnamon. It lends itself to both sweet and savory applications.”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “Usually, something like Erykah Badu or the Roots, but really my playlist is all over the place.”
Did you grow up cooking? “Yes, as a kid I cooked alongside my parents—peeling fresh garlic, stirring, chopping. I was always curious about what was happening in the kitchen and felt a heightened level of comfort around food.”
What chef dead or alive would you like to cook with? “I would like to cook with Gabrielle Hamilton. I think we’d get along.”
After all these years working in restaurants, how much do you still enjoy going out to eat? “Going out to eat is one of my greatest pleasures. Yes, even after all these years! It may be a different experience for a chef, but it’s what keeps us all going. Always tasting, always observing, always supporting.”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “All-time best cooking show: OG Japanese Iron Chef.”
What is the one tool that you always need but can’t ever seem to find in your kitchen? “Microplane. I swear I have to open four drawers before I remember where I put it. Hint: Not in a drawer.”
What is the best food city in the world? “Montreal.”
Christina McKeough is executive chef of High Street Philly.
Interview has been condensed and edited.