Who or what was your first cooking influence? My dad. He was a pastry chef. He baked everything, so I grew up in a from-scratch-kitchen home. He had a garden outside, apple trees, cherry trees. I think I was 12 years old before I even realized you could buy biscuits in a can or a frozen pie crust.
What was the first thing you ever cooked or baked? My mom always tells me the story about when I was 6, she was taking a nap, and I asked her if I could make a pizza. She told me to go ahead. She assumed that I was gonna pull a frozen pizza out of the oven. When I woke her up, I had tomato paste and flour and stuff everywhere. I had made a homemade crust, and I made a pizza. I'm not sure it was edible, but I made it.
What made you decide to become a chef, and when was that? It hit me when I was about 20. When I was 15, I always knew that I wanted to work in food. I always assumed that I would probably open like maybe a barbecue place or something like that. But once the Food Network got on there and I started seeing more into the culinary world, I realized I wanted to do more than just be a grill guy. I wanted to really learn the art of food.
What was your first food-related job? Felicia Suzanne's Restaurant. I ran the pantry and dessert station, and then I moved over to the hot line. That was my first job ever in a kitchen. I kind of got lucky: When I was in culinary school, Felicia (Willett) called the school ... looking for somebody to work in her pantry, and they recommended me. And I went for the interview. She liked me, and I've been cooking ever since.
What was something important that a fellow chef taught you? You can always add, but you can't take away. ... If you've got too much in, you've got to start over. Whereas, if you inch it in ... you can gradually get the taste that you're looking for.
What is the Seth Harris style? I like to do stuff that I was brought up on — I know every chef says it — but with a gourmet twist to it.
Describe a dish you created. My strawberry salad. I've won three first-place awards with that salad. I created it here for the Bourbon Street Steakhouse. It's mixed field greens with candied walnuts. I toss the walnuts with olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne and brown sugar. Roast them. And I use boursin garlic-and-herb cheese, sliced strawberries, and I make a champagne dressing to go on top.
What do you cook or bake at home, if anything? For the most part, when I'm in the kitchen 12, 15 hours a day, I just want a bowl of cereal or a bologna sandwich or something.
What's your favorite food? I'm a sucker for french fries.
What's your least favorite food? Boiled okra.
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