Ever wonder what it’s like to be a competitor on the Food Network show Chopped? Wonder no more. Today is my first installment of the “Behind the Scenes” segments for the Breaking Bread Podcast and I’m talking to Chef Demetrio Zavala, Executive Chef at DC’s Lincoln, Declaration, and Teddy and the Bull Bar. He became a Chopped Champion in October 2016. Chef Demetrio tells me what it’s like to be on Chopped. We talked about his love for his work, his business, his team, and most of all, his guests. I visited him at Lincoln to give you a full sense of the fun and festive atmosphere that he creates in all of his restaurants. Let’s listen in…
“I fell in love with my work and dedicated my life to it.” ~Jiro Ono
A friend of mine recommended I watch the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It’s about Jiro Ono. 85-years-old, he is considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. (Yes, the finest food can be found in a subway station!)
Humble and unassuming in appearance, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin Guide rating. Sushi fan from all over the world repeatedly visit and make reservations months in advance. Jiro is completely unimpressed with himself. At 85, he says he is still searching for perfection, still trying to get better every minute of every day. He is also a fierce advocate for greater environmental regulations to protect the oceans and wildlife.
His dedication, passion, and commitment to his work is without equal. I enjoy my work but I don’t have what he has. It gave me something to aspire to, to search for. I’m looking.