This is part two of Chrissy Wilmes' Chef's Choice profile of Chris Williams of Franco (1535 South Eighth Street; 314-436-2500). Part one can be found here. Part three, a recipe from Williams, can be found here.
Did your family cook when you were a child? Mom made dinner every night, and we sat at the table and ate together. Dad packed our school lunches -- brown-bagging every day!
How old were you when you started cooking? I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, and I had an assignment in Spanish class that involved researching and cooking the food of Spain. I became curious then.
First cooking job? Prep cook/line cook at Summit House restaurant in Keystone, Colorado.
Did you attend culinary school or college? The C.I.A.
What do you eat? A little of everything. Usually toasted PB & J for breakfast. Bites and tastes while at work.
What do you cook at home? Unless I have a big meal planned for a special occasion, I usually cook simple foods. One-pot meals, lots of veggies, rice with beans or lentils.
The local chef who most impresses you? Kevin Willmann.
Your favorite restaurant elsewhere? Eleven Madison Park, New York City.
Your favorite food city? NYC.
Favorite recent food find? Savory and marjoram.
Most essential ingredient in your kitchen? Salt.
Favorite local food find, and where do you get it? Ducks from Harr Farm [at Soulard Market].
Five words to describe your food. Honest, approachable, flavorful, playful, evolving.
One food you dislike. I had grubs prepared several different ways while in Ecuador. Didn't care for any of them.
A food you can't live without. Potatoes or bread. Not sure which.
An ingredient never allowed in your kitchen. High-fructose corn syrup. Artificial foods.
Culinarily speaking, St. Louis needs more... More diners that are willing to support local chefs and independent restaurants.
Best tip for home cooks. Taste your food while you are cooking. Trust what you taste and make the necessary adjustments.
Favorite kitchen tool. Eight-inch chef's knife.
What's next for you? Summer and all the things it brings.
What inspires you? Talking to other people about food.
Chefs who inspire you. Eric Ripert, Rick Bayless, Thomas Keller, Hubert Keller.