Stephanie Izard on Twitter, 'Top Chef,' and Her New Chicago Restaurant
"My manager has me on Twitter now, which reminds me, I should go update that."
Yesterday, we caught up with Stephanie Izard, last season's Top Chef winner. She's a busy woman, opening her new Chicago restaurant, The Drunken Goat, this fall, doing some spokeswoman work for Quaker Oats, and launching a podcast next week. We thought it was only appropriate to have goat with her. So over a plate of slow-roasted goat in Manhattan, we got to the bottom of this curiously named restaurant of hers, among other things.
Why a goat? And why so drunken? So it turns out my last name, Izard, is a type of goat found in the Pyrenees. Since I'm not the type to call my restaurant, "Stephanie's," I figured that was personal enough. The drunken part is because I called up my good friend Antonia from the show and was like, "How would you describe me?" And she said, "Uh, drunken?" She was just joking, but I love the Drunken Goat cheese, so it worked.
So you'll be serving goat (the animal and the cheese) at the restaurant, yes? Yeah, I just got back from Spain and found the cheese at this amazing market in Madrid. I was there with my friend, who was freaked out by all the animals' heads hanging everywhere. But I loved it.
How do you like your goat? Is it tough to prepare? Well, some goat is like, "Hey, I am goat." In the same way lamb can be lamby. But it shouldn't be like that. Since it's not as fatty as other animals, it can get dry, but I'll probably do mine ragoût-style, maybe over a polenta cake. Depends on the time of year. I also want to play with house-cured meats and have as much charcuterie as possible.
Overall, I'm going for Spanish-Italian influences. Definitely casual decor. Somewhat similar to the feel inside the Spotted Pig restaurant in New York. I want to have tripe, pigs' feet, and other cuts of meat that are not only good for this economy but also tasty. Plates will be made to share--but I hesitate to call it tapas. The sharing part is key. We'll stay open late, with brunch on weekends. Of course lots of cheeses. I really want a cheese cave downstairs that the health department doesn't know about. They don't like the wrong temperatures.
And to drink? I'm actually going to make my own wine, which I've never done before. I was just in Walla Walla, Washington, at a place called Saviah Cellars. They're going to help me pick out blends. By the way, Walla Walla is such an awesome place. You walk around and people are just waving hello to each other. I told my friend, "This place is great. Let's buy a house here!"
Yeah, repeating the Walla must make everything better. So what else are you working on? I'm actually launching a podcast next week. Podcast? Yeah, I guess that's what you call it. I'm not tech-savvy. It won't be one of those Food Network-type shows where I just stand there and cook. It will make people watch and say, "This chick is crazy!" I'll be rolling up my sleeves and getting dirty on farms and in breweries. The people filming it are documentary-makers so it'll have that feel. Plus me and all my sarcastic voiceovers. See, here's a picture of the artwork my friend in Chicago, Quang Hong, did for the show. Me standing next to a goat. It will have that creepy-cute feel.
Reminds me of the new Coraline animation. Kinda sweet, kinda goth? Coraline? Ooh, I'll have to write that down. [Pulls out Domo notebook.] Yes. I love Quang's stuff. He's painting goats for the new restaurant that I'll be hanging, too.
So, moving on from gothic goats. Top Chef! How do you feel about the new season? It's weird watching. It's like, what are you doing on my show?!
I have the inside scoop on the last few remaining but don't know who actually won. I'm guessing one of the European dudes. Stefan or Fabio. Maybe the first European Top Chef? Both of them can be a little cocky, but if you have talent, I don't really mind the cockiness.
Were you pals with fellow Chicago gal Radhika, who went home recently? You know, she called me before the show started to ask for advice. I told her the same thing Dale Levitski told me. Don't talk crap about people, and you're going to eat a lot of junk food.
Wait, junk food? Yeah, I didn't know what he meant by that either. Turns out the catering company for the show kind of sucks.
Finally, how do you feel about the internet? Are you on Twitter, Facebook, and all that nonsense? My manager has me on Twitter now, which reminds me, I should go update that. I joined Facebook to win the show's fan favorite award, so I accepted everyone at first. Now I'm like who are these people? 543 friend requests? I don't really read food blogs too much. It's not that I don't care; I just take things too personally. I could read one negative thing and it would ruin my day.
Stephanie Izard's podcast "The Tasty Life" will premiere on her blog next week.