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21 Questions with Chef Eric Greenspan - The Next Iron Chef?

Cason Murphy - October 4, 2009





Before tonight's premiere of The Next Iron Chef, TV Tango got a chance to sit down with one of this season's competitors.  Jersey-born and Los Angeles-based gourmand Eric Greenspan spends his days and nights in the heart of Hollywood as the executive chef and owner of The Foundry on Melrose.

True to form, Eric served us up plenty of laughs, impersonations (from Katherine Hepburn to Elephant Man John Merrick) and a plate of his famed grilled cheese sandwiches (which won him the top honor at LA's Grilled Cheese Invitational back in 2008) as he answered some flavorful questions from his fans.







TV Tango (TVT): If you were a food, what food would you be?

Eric Greenspan (EG): "Pork butt marinated in lard, orange juice and Dr. Pepper."


TVT: If you were on a desert island, what one food would you want??

EG: "Chili fries…but I'd be dead in a week."


TVT: Who is your favorite TV chef?

EG: "Gotta go old school - Martin Yan from Yan Can Cook."


TVT: If you could cook for one TV character, who would it be?

EG: "Fred Flintstone."


TVT: What kitchen appliance couldn't you live without?

EG: "Umm…a spoon?"


TVT: If you were on the show Bizarre Foods, what food would you NEVER eat?

EG: "Semen of any sorts." [When asked if he'd ever eaten or cooked with semen, he soundly answered, "No."]


TVT: What TV star would you like to cook for?

EG: "John Madden…think about the play-by-play."


TVT: If you were on Man vs. Wild, what food would be the easiest for you to kill and prepare?

EG: "Smores.  I'm a Jew, we don't camp."


TVT: What was your biggest failure in the kitchen?

EG: "Oh - Lettuce soup with curried crab salad.  It was while I was at Patina…I was young, it was laughable."


TVT: What is your secret to being an Iron Chef?

EG: "Confidence in your ability to execute what you want to execute."


TVT: What food would you want for a reward challenge on Survivor?

EG: "An aged New York steak."


TVT: In a cooking challenge, what food scares you the most?

EG: "You couldn't put a food in front of me where I would go, 'Oh noooo. What now?'"


TVT: Even something like sheep eyeballs?

EG: "There's nothing you can't cook slowly that won't go with chickpeas, red peppers, and chorizo."


TVT: Which judge from The Next Iron Chef do you respect the most?

EG: "Donatella [Arpaia].  She can bust your balls, but her comments are always right on…plus she's made a name for herself in the business."


TVT: Monk's Restaurant from Seinfeld or Mel's Diner from Alice - where would you dine?

EG: "In real life, I used to eat at Monk's, which is really called Tom's.  But from TV?  Mel's, hands down…Dining out is about the food, yeah, but it's also about the experience.  That staff [Mel, Alice & Flo] is a lot like my staff."

TVT: Your grilled cheese is your specialty, what's your 2nd best dish?

EG: "Pancake lasagna.  I serve it here [at The Foundry] whenever we do brunch, like on Mother's day…and what I tell people is, 'Have your morning sex first, 'cuz you ain't getting it after.'" [Pancake lasagna is "a layer of egg, a layer of bacon, a layer of pancakes, then another layer of eggs, a layer of bacon, and a layer of pancakes - with a ribbon of miel de maple (maple syrup) between each layer."]


TVT: If you had your own cooking show, what would you name it?

EG: "Jew Food with Eric Greenspan.  I could tour around all of the Hadassahs in America with Mandy Patinkin - he could have a band, the Mandy Patinkin Seven.  We could have Woody Allen on…they're about the only Jews left right, Mandy and Woody?"


TVT: What about Barbra Streisand?

EG: "No. She hates me…she actually came here, had a great meal and kvelled about the food, but when she was leaving, there was one...only one...photographer out front…Then I got a call that night, not from her, but from the person she was dining with…they left me a voicemail saying, 'That's a way to promote your restaurant? We're not saying you called the paparazzi, but you should write her an apology.' All the while, in the background, you could hear [Barbra] saying 'Well, I'm never going back' over and over. No, I never wrote the apology. What is she, crazy? The last thing she did was, what, like Yentl?"


TVT: Think about the series Dinner: Impossible. What big event would you want to cook for?

EG: "The Academy Awards.  It's Hollywood baby."  And he has some words for Wolfgang Puck, whose contract with the Oscars is up in two years: "I'm after you, punk."

TVT: If you had to make a dish using doughnuts as the main ingredient and Homer Simpson was a judge, what would you make?

EG: "That's easy - we serve this here.  I'd serve them stuffed with peanut butter and marscapone cheese sauce, with homemade concord grape jam, and a shot of iced milk."


TVT: Finally, one of our readers would like to know if he can have your recipe for potato croquette with lavender dipping sauce?

EG: "Anybody can get my recipes in exchange for coming in and working [for The Foundry] for minimum wage."


TVT: And, of course, we want to know - what's your favorite TV show?

EG: "South Park.  I love that show…but also, The Daily ShowThe SopranosAustin: City Limits.  And I really dig Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t."


Cheer Eric and the other chefs on as they chop, sear, and braise under the watchful eyes of Alton Brown and the Chairman. The ovens and the drama in the Kitchen Arena heat up on Season 2 of The Next Iron Chef, premiering tonight, Sunday October 4, 2009 at 9PM on the Food Network!


Update on Monday, October 5, 2009: Unfortunately, Alton told the young grasshopper Eric that will not be the Next Iron Chef. Eric promises never ever cook you grasshoppers.

Additional reporting by: Maj Canton.


Cason Murphy started in the entertainment business at the age of three when he "picked a rabbit out of his hat" during a tap recital - and hasn't had the good sense to get out yet. When he's not selling his soul to academia at UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television, he is making good use of his DVR.