A Voce's Missy Robbins, Part Two: Travel, Summer Eating, and Her Biggest Kitchen Mistake

Yesterday, we brought you part one of this interview with A Voce's Missy Robbins. The chef talked about the practical ways she manages two kitchens at once, cooking for the Obamas, and why she doesn't think of herself as a female chef.

Here, in the second half of the interview, find out where Robbins is itching to travel to, her summer cooking tips, and what's in her refrigerator.

If you could go to the airport right now and fly anywhere, where would you go?

I'd like go to Thailand. I've never been to Asia. I've done a lot of traveling in Europe. I'd like to do something different. That's what I'm thinking today.

What's the biggest mistake you ever made in the kitchen?

I macerated grapefruit in salt for a dessert when I was working for Wayne Nish [at March]. I was a very young cook and we were working in a different kitchen, doing an event. And sugar was usually in the big white bins, salt was usually not. I didn't taste it. To this day, and this was 15 years ago, I still taste anything white before I put it into anything.

Where do you go to eat or drink after hours or on your day off?

That's a tough one. After work, I'm a big fan of Blue Ribbon. They serve my favorite dish in the city: oxtail fried rice. It comes with bone marrow and chile sauce. I live in the West Village so I spend a lot of time there. I like 'ino for breakfast and I like Lupa and Blue Ribbon Sushi. Employees Only to drink. ... And my old boss, John DeLucie, just opened the Lion with the best burgers in town. Not just because he's my friend; the burger is amazing. I wish I could get out more.

What are some of your favorite Italian dishes to serve in the summer?

I don't know about specific dishes, but I obviously tend more toward southern Italian. Our Sicily menus started today; they're both fantastic, exciting, and fun. I get excited about summer food. I love spring with the peas and favas, but then I get bored with it in three weeks. Summer stuff comes a little slower, starts with the asparagus, cherries, and strawberries, then the eggplant and zucchini, then stone fruit, and then tomatoes don't come till later. We have a great swordfish with eggplant puree, marinated eggplant, caper vinaigrette, and chile oil at Columbus, and we just put on sardines with eggplant, sesame, and raisin vinaigrette at Madison. And here at Columbus we're about to do linguine with zucchini and almond pesto with ricotta salata, while at Madison we'll do spaghetti with razor clams and zucchini.

I prefer to eat lighter foods, so it's just fun to make the food a little fresh and light.

Say someone has 20 minutes and a fairly well-stocked pantry. What would you tell them to make for dinner today?

Something very simple: a sliced zucchini salad with great ricotta salata, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Is there a cookbook you'd recommend for home cooks?

These days I'm using La Cucina. It's a giant book on the regional cooking of Italy. It has cool, fun facts, off-the-beaten-path recipes broken down into antipasti, pasta, soups ... It's great for research.

And how about a chef you particularly admire?

I admire a lot of them -- how do you pick one? I had an incredible meal at Eleven Madison Park. I think Daniel Humm has an amazing personality and amazing talent. I think he deserves all the accolades he's gotten.

What's in your refrigerator at home?

Caviar and prosecco. That's it. I'm not kidding.

What else do you need?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.


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