Meet & Eat: Roger Kamholz, Serious Eats Contributor
Editor's Note: As one of the most frequent contributors on the site, Roger has written about a plethora of topcis, including ramen, vegetarian dishes, and—most importantly—cocktails. If you see him at a party, demand that he make your next drink. Take it away, Roger.
Name: Roger Kamholz
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: magazine editor
Guilty pleasures? Cape Cod Salt & Vinegar potato chips. They're a cruel mistress. I will eat these until my mouth is pretty well sandpapered and I'm in acute physical pain. That's when you know you've got a problem.
Describe your perfect meal. I'm sitting on the side of the road off the Pacific Coast Highway, looking out on the rickety old boats moored on Tamales Bay, while laying into a couple dozen barbecued oysters from the Marshall Store, and washing them down with clam chowder and a crisp, cold white wine.
What food won't you eat? Gefilte fish. If you're unfamiliar, it's a Jewish dish that typically comes in a jar full of goo. I can't think of a more unappetizing food: Unidentified ground seafood embalmed in mysterious gray Jell-O. The stuff frightens me.
Favorite food person? Alton Brown of Good Eats. He's funny, entertaining, wicked smart and, above all, relentlessly inquisitive. I respect that.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? My parents have always enjoyed eating well, so I think observing and emulating them as a young kid laid the groundwork. It's become family lore that as a boy of maybe 5 or 6, I would order T-bones at restaurants. But for me, the first time I can recall being really dazzled and delighted by a food experience was having a Caesar salad made table-side. I must have been 8 or 10 years old. Seeing firsthand the ritual and care that could go into making a dish, and feeling that giddy anticipation of something you knew was going to taste amazing—I was hooked a that point.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? Well, one of my latest and most intense obsessions is cocktails—both drinking and preparing them. From what I can tell, my friends and family are happy to reap the benefits of my obsession. Judging by all the shakers I was given as gifts last month, I'd say they're being encouraging.
Favorite food sites or blogs?Being a cocktail nerd, I follow several cocktail blogs and drink writers, from Camper English at Alcademics to 12 Bottle Bar to Savoy Stomp. While it was still being updated, I also liked checking in on London chef Yotam Ottolenghi's blog on the Guardian's website, the New Vegetarian; even now as a static archive, it's a great recipe source for the vegetarian diet, to which my wife adheres.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? This is tough! I'm not trying to brag, but I feel like my wife and I have become everyone else's go-to source for recommendations. That said, I read a lot of food media and try to expose myself to a wide range of opinions.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? Dinner is my favorite meal by far. It's the one you don't have to rush, and the meal that pairs best with alcohol. I am not a picky eater by any means—critical, yes, but never picky—so I'll eat dinner practically anywhere. These days, I "dinner" frequently at Chicago's Ruxbin Kitchen, Davanti Enoteca, and Karyn's on Green, to name a few local spots.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I cook all the time and love doing it. I find it so satisfying to chop veggies, smell the aroma of cooking meats, and jiggle stuff in a sauté pan. I can make presentable risotto and very good caramelized Brussels sprouts, and very, very good French onion soup. I also know my way around a grill.