Every night the world’s cooks subject themselves to the heat and pressure of the professional kitchen. We wanted to turn up the pressure on them in a different way, subjecting them to our rapid-fire interview about cars, food, and pop culture. In this episode we talk with James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Bartolotta, runs a restaurant empire in Milwaukee that includes Bacchus, Harbor House, and Ristorante Bartolotta.
Most underrated food city in America?
Milwaukee. [Cheshire cat grin] Because I operate in Milwaukee. No one comes to Milwaukee. Come to Milwaukee!
Best concert you’ve ever been to?
Every Bruce Springsteen concert is the best concert ever.
Guilty pleasure TV show?
What music do you listen to while getting ready for service?
Not in the restaurant, per se, but I love classical music.
What’s one place you haven’t traveled where you’d really like to go?
Japan. I love Japanese food, I love Japanese culture. I love their sense of precision, their sense of order.
Waffles or pancakes?
Die Hard or Lethal Weapon?
Lethal Weapon. It’s funnier.
Ferrari or Lamborghini?
What was your first car?
Alfa Romeo 164 L. I saved for years for that car. I wouldn’t buy a car until I got the car I wanted.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Eggs. I love eggs. Superfood.
Chunky or smooth peanut butter?
NBA or NFL?
Mountains or beaches?
Both. I ski in the winter and I sail in the Mediterranean in the summer every year. Those are my two passions.
If you could cook a meal for anyone living or dead, who would it be? And what would you cook?
My mother and my father. My father I would make him spaghetti alle vongole because it was his favorite dish and it was the last dish I cooked for him before he passed. For my mother, my mom loved pig’s feet. She was German, Austrian, and she loved pig’s feet, so I would make her pig’s feet.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
I would probably be a psychologist. I love people, I care about people, and I like to help people.
Your drink of choice?
Your alcoholic drink of choice?
It kills me to say this, but there’s nothing greater than a great French Champagne. It’s like the bomb. It’s the bomb.