Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg
Ambiance. Great Food. Buzz. It takes all of those and more to turn a restaurant into a destination, and right now no one is doing it better than Geoffrey Zakarian, the master of modern cooking. Zakarian graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and quickly moved through various kitchens, ultimately landing as the executive chef at the prestigious 21 Club in New York City. From there he took over the kitchen at “44” at The Royalton Hotel, and started the trend of chic restaurants with good food in hotels. He went on to open his own restaurants, publish cookbooks, create a line of kitchen products, and now can be seen on a number of hit shows on the Food Network, including Chopped and Iron Chef. His latest endeavor is the restaurant Point Royal at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL, which includes an impressive raw bar, along with Counter Point, anchored in the hotel lobby, offering coffee, juices, snacks and light bites all day long. The Overhead Compartment was fortunate to share a meal and pick up a few pointers from the highly talented chef restaurateur, Geoffrey Zakarian.
The Overhead Compartment with Geoffrey Zakarian starts now….
OC: You have written two cookbooks and have a new line of kitchen products call Pro for Home. What is the single most important lesson a person should learn to become a better cook?
GZ: Well you have to work at it. Practice. Make mistakes and then rinse and repeat. It’s a trade but a trade imbued with passion and the most basic instinct known to mankind. To feed and provide. It’s truly a unique and wonderfully enriching profession. Treat it as such. Make it everyday and taste it every day.
OC: You appear on a number of Food Network shows, host Food Talk on Sirius XM, have successful restaurants all over the country and you have a family. What is the secret to staying balanced?
GZ: Truly, it’s a myth. Balance that is. I am never in balance. We love, adjust, shift, change, fail, learn. Every single day. It’s never static.
OC: You’re described as the master of Modern cooking, what does that description mean to you?
GZ: Let’s drop the master. But it means being in the moment, taking risks yet cooking from your soul every day. Changing when you don’t feel it and admitting you made mistakes. Somehow good food usually follows, so call it whatever you want.
OC: What’s your favorite meal to cook?
GZ: Anything for my family and children. But I am a sucker for a big breakfast spread.
OC: Least favorite food to cook?
OC: You have restaurants in Manhattan, South Florida, Greenwich and Beverly Hills. Aside from your own, what’s your favorite restaurant in:
GZ: Manhattan: BondST Miami: Le Petite Maison Beverly Hills: Beverly Hills Coffee Chop Greenwich: National Italian (Coming soon)
OC: As the father of three kids, what is the best advice you could give when cooking for children?
GZ: Always prep together. Let them see what it takes. The best conversations take place way before eating.
OC: You have traveled all over the world opening restaurants and cooking, what’s the most exciting place work has taken you?
GZ: Doha. Dubai. Paris. London. California. Florida. Australia. I am blessed truly.
OC: How would you spend a day there if you had one free?
GZ: In Paris. Check in to the Bristol. Head over to Angeline for a chocolate. Stroll the Palais Royal. A quick lunch at Le Grand Véfour. And wander the first and second and finish with a delightful bite at Frenchy followed by a nightcap at the bar at the Bristol. Bon appetit!
OC: You were the winner in the fourth season of The Next Iron Chef. What was your favorite part of that experience?
GZ: To be a part of that prestigious small group. The honor is overwhelming.
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
GZ: Go to the gym.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
GZ: Lots of cash. You never know!
Geoffrey Zakarian, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!
Stacy Steponate Greenberg brings over 15 years of travel and marketing experience to Pursuitist. With her column, The Overhead Compartment, Stacy interviews celebrities and athletes bringing an insight into their lives and travel habits. Stacy spent 11 years at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in various capacities, serving stints as Director of Marketing for the St. Regis and Sheraton brands, and Senior Director for Starwood Residences. Prior to Starwood, Stacy worked as Manager of Marketing for Hyatt Hotels. A native of Chicago, Stacy resides New York City with her husband and two kids, who like to “rate” the various hotels on their travels with their mom. Reach Stacy via Twitter twitter.com/StacyGSG.