And if multiple television shows aren't enough, he's also opening a new restaurant, Bearnaise, in Washington D.C. Still, Spike had time to talk to us about all this and more, sharing some holiday cooking advice and a few one-of-a-kind recipes, featuring Captain Morgan Rum that are sure to impress your holiday guests.
Spike Mendelsohn: Life after Top Chef has been a complete turnaround for me. Before I went on the show, I was cooking in a New York City kitchen, running from one restaurant to the next. Going on the show gave me the opportunity to gain some notoriety and be able to have some marketing with my name. It opened the gates to so many opportunities. Now I own my own restaurants, and I'm opening a new one soon. I get to travel the world, participate in food festivals and do all sorts of charity events. It truly made my career, and when you're presented with an opportunity, you just have to take it and run with it. Top Chef gave me that opportunity, not only for me, but for everyone around me. It helped support my entire family, my friends. It's something truly unique.
SM: When I'm busy filming, I miss yelling at people in the kitchen (laughs). I miss the hustle, the rush of service and burning myself and having to put food out on time. Being on the line is an adrenaline rush and is something you wouldn't understand unless you were a chef. That's part of the reason why I'm opening a new restaurant. It allows me to be in the kitchen a lot more, as opposed to the fast casual restaurants I've been doing. I've been in the kitchen since I was 13 years old, so having a break these past three years from the everyday kitchen life has been really unique and a great learning experience. I've gotten to learn the business a lot more and how to build a restaurant. I enjoy both sides now.
SM: Bearnaise is a classical steak frites restaurant out of Paris. It's a prix fixe menu that really takes the essence of a Parisian-style steak frites restaurant and replicates it in the United States. We're changing it up a little bit to provide more options and do a couple different things, but for the most part it's going to stay pretty classic. For instance, we're going to have French onion soup, classic walnut salad, different types of steak frites with all sorts of sauces. It'll be a steak frites place with my take on it, so I'm pretty excited about it.
SM: My biggest tip is that you don't have to do it all by yourself. Ask your guests to bring something to eliminate some of the items off your prep list. If you want a sweet potato casserole or some mashed potatoes, ask someone to make it and bring it with them. I think that makes it a little more interactive and fun too, when people get to bring their sides and their sauces. Also, don't wait until the last minute to prep everything. Think about leftovers and how great those taste. Making things a day or two ahead always helps, and that food will only get better with time. Throw the stuffing together the day before and have it already made, so when you wake up in the morning you can just reheat it.
SM: My favorite holiday dish to prepare is stuffing. I think they're so delicious, and I also love to make sauces. I'm known for my holiday sauces, like the gravy, red wine sauces and reductions. I come from a classic French background, where the importance of really delicious sauces is at the forefront of food.
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