Rich Torrisi's name hits headlines all the time, but the renowned chef—and managing partner of one of New York City's hottest restaurant groups—admits that he doesn't much care for all the media attention. "I don't have a taste for it, I don't really enjoy that part of it," he explains. In fact, of the trio behind Major Food Group, which owns icons like Parm, Carbone, and ZZ's Clam Bar, Torrisi is far and away the shiest. But I've also found that, given the chance to open up, he's one of the most articulate and thoughtful chefs I've had the pleasure of speaking with.
Over the years, Rich and I have had many far-ranging, one-on-one philosophical conversations, so I'm thrilled to be sharing our latest chat with all of you on this episode of Special Sauce. The result is a revealing, intimate look into the mind of an insanely talented man.
What makes a great chef, in Torrisi's estimation? A combination of craft, curiosity, and focus that can be exhibited in even the humblest of dishes, like eggplant parm—or the rice pilaf that ignited his passion back when he worked the line at a suburban chain restaurant. In this week's episode, we also discuss the synergy Torrisi shares with partners Mario Carbone and Jeff Zalaznick, why he idolizes Carl Sagan and George Lucas, and the very first item he'd stick in his desert-island fridge. Believe me, you'll want to eat it, too.
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