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Interview: Chef Kurtis D. Jantz Gets the 10, uh, 15

Categories: Chef Interviews
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Chef Kurtis D. Jantz
For every incredibly boring interview we get in (be thankful we spare you from those), at least one comes in chock-full of so much creative stuff that we find it near impossible to cull. So consider the extra five answers from Chef Kurtis D. Jantz (below) a New Year's giftie. Jantz was born in Okinawa, Japan, and attended culinary school in Kansas before working in the Netherlands, Antilles, Europe and New Orleans. Now he's the executive chef for Trump International Beach Resort Miami. No small job working for Mr. "You're Fired," right? Not only is this guy responsible for all food and beverage operations at the resort, including lounges, room service and catering, but he's somehow finds time to create themed dinners at Neomi's, too. [We just got word that his Paradigm test kitchen, the spot that invited his incredibly innovative team to generate and present an entirely new set tasting menu to diners each week, is no longer around. Sigh.]

By the way, this guy's also a sommelier and is currently at work on an advanced sommelier certificate at the USSA. So if you get a chance, ask him to introduce you to Chadzilla, a spicy red Zin, and his Rotaval:

New Times: If you came back in your next life as a food item, what would it be and how would you like to be served?

KJ: Foie gras torchon, room temperature soft, with a spiced fig compote and crusty brioche!

NT: If you could serve a meal to any famous person, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you cook for him/her?

KJ: Bob Marley... I would cook him [a] mostly vegetarian meal using culinary techniques of the modern times and add in some beautiful steamed kamapachi and a touch of my homemade chicken liver pate (as he sometimes ate liver for iron).  And a homemade brew of Ginger Beer!

NT: What was your most embarrassing cooking-related moment?

KJ: Spilling 50 gallons of homemade gumbo at a Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans! And it was an outside catered event!

NT: What food/utensil/technique still confounds you?

KJ: The Rotaval. Here is a brief description. Simply amazing. "It has multiple applications: It can be used to extract the alcohol from alcoholic beverages, obtaining an excellent spirit to obtain reductions where cooking and oxidation of the product is avoided; to carry out reflux cooking; to impregnate some solid products with liquids; or to make marmalades and jams where all the original taste is preserved (as the product isn't cooked). The only limit is that of the imagination."

NT: What's your favorite food-/cooking-related joke?

KJ: Cheesy as it may be, sending that rookie/grunt cook to get a "bucket of steam" for the recipe.

NT: What was your best or worst dining experience?

KJ: Two of my best dining experiences were at WD-50, being blown away by Chef Dufresne's techniques and flavor combinations.

NT: If your significant other gave you a pass, what celebrity chef would you most like to enjoy a naked cooking session with and why?

KJ: Well one could argue if she is actually a chef or not, but who cares: Padma Lakshmi. And why? She has great food knowledge, she is culturally traveled... oh and she's freakin' HOT!!

NT: What's your favorite soundtrack/song to cook to?

KJ: The Eagles of Death Metal! Chadzilla's mix CD version pumps me up! For when we [were] rockin' out prep for a Paradigm dinner... For a chillin' evening at home cooking for friends: Bob Marley's Confrontation.

NT: Which famous chef, alive or dead, would you like to shadow for a day (assuming you haven't already had the chance)?

KJ: I think Ferran Adria is a given, there are so many chefs that would love to shadow him and pick his mind.  But also another Spanish chef that I admire very much is Adoni Aduriz from Mugaritz, true innovator... and then there is Rene Redzepi from Noma... My list could go on for a while.

NT: What is your dream culinary trip?

KJ: Dream culinary trip, going to Japan and working with Yoshihiro Murata and studying the art of the Kaeseki dinner hands on. 

NT: If you weren't a chef, you'd be...?

KJ: Rock star!!

NT: What's the hottest thing a date could whip up for you in the kitchen and why?

KJ: Homemade pizza. Making dough is an art, and this would truly impress me with "her hands." Wild mushrooms, ricotta, spinach and fresh Italian sausage... throw in a bottle of spicy red zinfandel and it's on! Or she could go the route of ice cold beer and football! 

NT: What's your favorite junk food and where do you get it?

KJ: Jaxson's ice cream parlor's chocolate almond!  And hopefully that retro guy playing old Stevie Wonder is sitting outside on the sidewalk!

NT: If you could be slathered head-to-toe in one food item--without fear of getting an allergic reaction--what would it be and why?

KJ: Warm Nutella because that would be one HOT date!!!

NT: How would you complete this sentence: Never trust a chef who/that_____________?

KJ: Never trust a chef that name-drops. I know this person, I did this. I worked with this chef. Impress with your cooking, your passion, and your drive, not your mouth!

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