Last week, after his Top Chef win, we got Ilan Hall on the phone and forced him to decide what his last meal on earth would be. (We wimped out on other questions, like “Dude, what was with the suspenders?” and “Is it weird to get stoned with Padma?”)
Anyway, what we did find out is that Hall, like any rational-minded food lover, has an affinity for crispy, salty snacks of all kinds, especially the ones that used to be someone’s skin.
“I don’t really care about the meat,” Hall said. “Just very crispy, rendered out baby pork skin, like NY Noodletown Style.”
“It would also involve a large plate of really crispy french fries, and something raw. Yellowtail or something. Also, I’d be drinking Orangina, my favorite soda.”
We let Ilan know he could invite any cooks he wanted to prepare elements of his last meal, and he immediately requested his father. “He is really an incredible cook.” So, Papa Hall would be brought in to execute either a roast chicken or a whole fish. What about Mama Bear? “My mom would just sit there and drink some wine. She doesn’t really cook,” Hall explained.
“Oh! Also, I’d definitely have some chicken skin. I’m big into skin.” We asked if the young chef was referring to the yakitori style—wherein the skin is wrapped expertly around a skewer and fried to create a crisp round shell, slightly chewy inside…
Indeed he was. Hall favors Yakitori Taisho, on St. Mark’s Place. “I don’t know if it’s the best place,” he said, “but I like it.”
Some of the other items on Ilan’s last supper table include:
plenty of mayonnaise, for dipping various snacks. “People don’t eat enough mayo here.”
A real Israeli-style falafel, with lots of tahini
Good thick-cut bacon
Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream
Milk chocolate gelato from Otto, with Maldon sea salt and Casa Pareja olive oil for sprinkling and drizzling, respectively. (This is a little treat Hall came up with as a cook at Casa Mono.)
Spanish bread with olive oil, sea salt, garlic
Also in attendance: Hall’s younger sister and Viennese granny. Aww.
Great NY Noodletown:
5 Saint Marks place
1 Fifth Avenue
125 East 17th
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 5, 2007