Daniel Parilla, the executive chef at 5Ninth, is best known as “Chino,” a nickname he got when working in a Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia. “It’s a common moniker for anyone Asian,” said Parilla, who is Filipino. “The Mexican guys called everyone ‘Chino,’ and then I was ‘Chino Loco.’ A kitchen is like being on a sailboat,” he said. “Or a football team.” As for his last meal, Chino was the first person we’ve interviewed to insist on adhering to death row guidelines. Or almost.
You’re on death row, or whatever, and you can have anything you want. Is it like, just one dish, a tasting? Are there rules?
No rules. Some people would travel around the world … But, if you’re on death row, you can’t leave the compound.
Well, yeah. If you want to keep it strict, that would be noble. I just want it to be known that I’m taking into consideration the death row stipulations. Considering that, I would have a bone-in, dry-aged ribeye, 64 ounces center-cut; with garlic mashed potatoes, chunky and home-style; and creamy spinach. With garlic-mushroom Bordelais—that’s my sauce. And a big bottle of barolo. A magnum! You get one drink, you know, on death row.
Right. My reasoning is, if I eat all this, I’ll pass out before I need to get nervous. That’s gonna put me to sleep before I get put to sleep.
Ha. I get dessert, too, right?
Absolutely. OK, chocolate-chip brownie a la mode, with chocolate-chip ice cream and extra chocolate sauce. A lot of chocolate sauce.
Nice. Hey, how’s the steak cooked? Mid-rare, grilled and roasted. I have the same steak on my menu. Steak is one of the main things I like to eat when I go out. It’s very fundamental, it’s instinctive, it’s satisfying, and the mashed potatoes and spinach—those things always work with steak. I could do something more exotic, more experimental, but it’s something I know will satisfy someone, like someone who comes to the meatpacking district on a Friday night and really doesn’t want to be there.
Ha. But his girlfriend makes him go out to eat before they go clubbing, or you’re just having a shitty day, or you’re tired, or whatever. For me it’s like, you just want a nice steak, you know?