Just Crazy For Just Desserts Dannielle

When we try to think of a beautiful and successful food expert, we have one person that's top on our list- Dannielle Kyrillos! You've seen her as a judge on the very celebrated Bravo series "Top Chef: Just Desserts," and now you can get your fill of Dannielle Kyrillos through her frequent contributions to our sister site, Food Republic. Dannielle is also a style editor, expert home entertainer, and a global nomad in constant search for all-things-tasty. In this special interview, we get a close-up look at her personal foodie favorites.

What is your go-to weeknight meal?

At this time of year, fire makes everything good! Vegetables like eggplant and zucchini, steaks, pork chops, beer-can chicken....anything on the grill. It's actually secretly lazy because you don't have to really do anything but light the fire and sprinkle salt and pepper. Also, I just got back from Singapore, where I met an intriguing fellow named "Anthony the Spice Maker," (who could resist?) so I've been experimenting a lot with curries and laksas.

What are some of your favorite restaurants?

Nearly impossible to pick just a couple when we live so close to so many super spots...but my all-time favorites are The Red Cat, Barbuto, and The Little Owl. Honest, delicious food in settings somehow cozy and glamorous at once. Oh, and Pizzeria Mozza in LA and Lonesome Dove in Fort Worth, TX!

What would you say was your most memorable meal?

It's a tie between the feast Joey Campanaro and the Little Owl gang made for my wedding, or paella and a roast pig at Jose Andres's beautiful house in Bethesda.

Favorites comfort food for when you're under the weather?

Any kind of pasta at all; the more the better! If I'm more than under the weather, sometimes only a ginger steamer from Mojo, the best neighborhood cafe ever, will do.

What are some great summer ingredients we should look out for?

We're so lucky at this time of year! Tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash, corn for dinner, and then it's such a treat to bake with just-picked peaches, strawberries and blueberries for dessert. I got some white peaches at a farm stand in Southampton last month that didn't even make it to dessert, they were stand-over-the-sink gobblers.

What is your favorite music to listen to while cooking?

A Genius mix based on a Widespread Panic cover of a Neil Young song (Walk On, Last Dance) always pulls up the best stuff and gets things started nicely.

Do you have a go-to cocktail?

A gin and tonic like the one served at The Bazaar in LA...it's like a garden in a glass. With fresh jasmine flowers if they are anywhere near. Or sometimes, like an old Italian man at 4pm, I like a nice Campari and soda.

Finally, what is your favorite surprising or unexpected food combinations?

I think yuzu is the greatest flavor in the world, and I like it in all sorts of guises. And flat parsley gets a bad rap---tossing it into any salad is a fresh taste sensation! Curry flavors in dessert is exciting.

Check her out on Food Republic and on the second season of Top Chef: Just Desserts which premieres inn two weeks on August 24th! For more random musings and inspirations from Dannielle, follow her on Twitter: @DKyrillos.