Guilty pleasures? A couple times a year I throw off the shackles of NYC pizza-snobbery and take comfort in my suburban upbringings by calling in Papa John's.
Describe your perfect meal. Texas smoked brisket and hot links with a side of fried chicken. Sometimes I fantasize about eating this with Mr. T, but in reality, I'd want my best friends and family at my side.
What food won't you eat? Raw oysters. I have a distaste for salty/briny—not a big seafood guy in general—and hate slimy, the combination of the two seems nothing short of torture to my taste buds.
Favorite food person? The father and daughter team of Mike and Amy Mills. Their book Peace, Love, and Barbecue was my bible when starting out smoking. Then Serious Eats hooked me up with them at the Nugget Rib Cookoff and ever since, they've both been incredibly kind, generous, and instrumental in helping out my own barbecue. Plus, you better listen to anyone dubbed "The Legend."
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? The day I fired up my first grill with match light charcoal, cooked bargain hot dogs and frozen burgers, and was reviled by how horrible that lighter-fluid flavored, sub-par meat was. From that day I on, I vowed nothing but great barbecue and grilling, which has turned me into way more of a serious eater than I ever thought possible.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? Besides my Dad's concern of an early coronary—unfortunately, he's probably right—they're all incredibly supportive. Barbecue often means large chunks of meat, so my friends are blessed with the ability to always come over and feast on the spoils. My wife has been especially great, but I'm roping her into competition barbecue this summer, so we'll have to see what whole weekends away, living in a tent next to a smoker, does to that dynamic.
Favorite food sites or blogs (besides SE)? Mike Lang started up his barbecue blog Another Pint Please around the same time The Meatwave got its start. His photos and recipes have always been a source of inspiration. Funny thing, years after becoming "blogging buddies" we discovered that we both went to the same high school, and beyond that, he had my mother as an English teacher. Nibble Me This by Chris G. is another treasure trove of great grilling recipes paired with top-notch photography.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? I'm way more into cooking than eating out, so I'm totally not up on restaurants. I mainly rely on my longtime friend and co-worker Marissa to guide me to good eats in the city, and she's usually right on.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? When you work 9 to 5, lunch is a magical thing. I've slowly lost all of my dependable lunch buddies to jobs in much more convenient locations than the Bronx Zoo, but I still force myself out to Arthur Avenue just about everyday, where you can find me with a Super Hero from Joe's, a meatball parm from the market, or a pasta from Tino's. When I tire of Italian specialities, it's the amazing rotisserie chicken from Angel's, tacos from La Estrellita, or a cheese burek from Tony & Tina's.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? All the time. There's rarely a week that goes by without grilling or barbecuing something—in the summer, it's way more than that. I've be honing my skills for years, and while I'll tout a lot of my barbecue at this point, it's my pulled pork that's really something special.
If you woke up tomorrow as a food, what would it be? With as much swine as I've downed, I'm pretty sure I'm mostly pig at this point. Does that hurt my chances of being buried in a Jewish cemetery? No matter, every part of me tastes delicious, especially when smoked!