I'd like to try something new on my site. Because of my work, I have the privilege of meeting many interesting people with wildly different backgrounds. And they all have very interesting thoughts, opinions and memories about food, sometimes much different than my own. I find it all very fascinating. The conversations also keep me informed about what's happening outside the kitchen in the real world.
So I thought I would share some of these conversations with you. We're going to start with ... Chris Rock! When I first came to New York from France, one of the first movies I saw was New Jack City. I loved it. I thought Chris did such an amazing job playing the role of Pookie. Chris was really funny, and his sense of humor and intellect (for which he is now very much admired) came through. The way he can make people laugh even when dealing with powerful and sensitive subjects is a true gift.
I was so excited when I heard he'd be spending some time at home before the release of his new movie Grown-Ups, which opens this weekend. Tracey Kemble who works with me and is friends with Chris was able to sit with him and talk about his interesting outlook on food.
Q: What is your first memory of food?
CHRIS: My mother cooking oatmeal for me and my brothers. It could be oatmeal or grits, we always ate together around the table before school. In the South breakfast is big -- eggs with sausage, steak and grits. I always had two meals with my family, lunch and dinner. We would have steak, pork chops, fried chicken, chicken wings, rice with every meal and vegetables, lima beans, greens. For my Dad it was not a meal unless we had meat.
Q: Did you crave fast food as a kid?
CHRIS: I'm not sure if my memory is right but I remember places like McDonald's being expensive. I grew up poor and I don't remember being able to buy a meal for a $1.00. It also wasn't just around the corner, I remember you would have to drive to one if it was not outside your door.
Q: Do you know how much a bottle of cranberry juice, butter or a container of milk is?
CHRIS: No, but I know going to the supermarket is very expensive. Whenever Malaak [his wife] shops it seems like the bill is $300.
Q: What do your daughters like to eat? What time do you have dinner together as a family?
CHRIS: Malaak makes sure they eat a lot of fruit in the morning. They also have Cream of Wheat. For dinner they love pasta, any way they can have pasta. Kids just love pasta. We have dinner around 7:40 pm.
Q: Do you know how to cook?
CHRIS: Not really, but I could keep my daughters alive (laughs). I know how to feed them. I can make eggs, pour cereal, make pasta. They would not die being in my care.
Q: What film set had the best food?
CHRIS: Joel Silver [who produced the Lethal Weapon franchise] loves great wine and food. We had everything you could imagine on the set. Someone was making omelets, waffles -- want a lobster? You could have it on that set. Lobster is a big thing because when you listen to rappers, when they make it big the first thing they rap about is eating lobster (laughs). It's true. Lobster is a very big topic on a rap record.
I had to watch what I ate because it is very easy to gain weight on a set and then your close-ups don't match.
Q: Do you eat in your trailer or with the crew?
CHRIS: If I'm directing or producing the movie I will eat with the crew, it helps keep morale up. Sometimes problems get hashed out at lunch. We can talk about making the day, what we will shoot if it rains. It is easy to work things out over lunch. If I am just acting sometimes I will eat in my trailer or on set. I mix it up.
Q: What do you eat when you are on tour?
CHRIS: I use up so much energy while I am on stage, I don't eat a lot. I have a lot of Coke. I love Coke in the bottle versus Coke in the can -- it definitely tastes much better. People know it because when you go to nice restaurants they always serve you Coke in a bottle versus in a can.
I usually have fruit and veggies in my dressing room.
Q:What is the most memorable dinner party you have attended?
CHRIS: Oprah had a dinner party for Gayle's 50th birthday party. Great food, great company, great time.
Q: What is your favorite food?
CHRIS: My favorite food is soft shell crab Cajun style.
Q: What is your favorite food to eat at a sporting event?
CHRIS: A hot dog is just fine.
Q. If you had a vending machine in your house, how would you stock it?
CHRIS: I would have a Coke machine because I just love Coke and ice.
Q. If your mother was going to compete on Iron Chef and you were her assistant what dish would she make to win?
CHRIS: Chicken and biscuits.
Q. If you were in charge of taking LeBron James out one night in the city, where would go to eat?
CHRIS: NOBU uptown, the food and atmosphere you gotta love it.
Q: What are some of your favorite restaurants?
CHRIS: Ivy by the Shore in Santa Monica is nice and tranquil. I like the atmosphere. Iceberg restaurant in Bondi Beach. Russell [Crowe] took me, it was great. Mary Mahoney's -- it is in Biloxi, Mississippi. It has the best seafood. The guy who owns it makes you feel so comfortable, great vibe, great music. There are only two things in Biloxi: this restaurant and a casino (laughs).
Q. Why were you in Biloxi?
CHRIS: I played [performed] at the casino.
Q: What is the most you have ever spent dining out?
CHRIS: About $1,000, taking friends out.
Q: If the President appointed you the food czar for the year, what changes would you make in the American diet?
CHRIS: First I would take the soda machines out of the schools. If a child gets an F for their health, their parents should get an F because that means someone at home is not telling their child what to eat. Parents need to be more involved.
Photo Credited to Alison Dyer.