Marc Randazzo on Jail Eats and Mickey Rourke's Nose
|Photo by Riki Altman|
|Marc Randazzo loves his customers. Really.|
New Times: You've got tons of photos of celebrities on your walls. Who's the most famous you've cooked for?
Marc Randazzo: I cooked for President Clinton and his wife. And a lot of fighters. The best person I cooked for was Mickey Rourke -- I'm a big fan. I've seen Pope of Greenwich Village about 200 times. I kinda helped him when he was boxing. I always told him I was going to do an Italian restaurant and he thought I was kidding. We became good friends when he was fighting. Then we lost touch for a couple years and he showed up at my restaurant when my friend Tommy Pooch brought him in.
The first day I met him he was starting to box. He came in to spar with this other fighter who didn't show up. I told his trainer, I'll spar with him. I'll take it easy on him. I won't hurt him. His trainer said, "Listen, he doesn't really know how to fight like you do, but he doesn't know that, so he's gonna come at you really hard." So I told him I'd work with him.
Are you the reason for his crooked nose then?
I liked him too much to hit him. I let him hit me.
And the fighters?
When I used to go to training camp with Evander Holyfield we would rent out a whole floor of a hotel. My trainer, he gave me the confidence to tell people I could cook. At least, back in the '70s, it was a girlie thing so I didn't tell the fighters I liked to cook. He kinda gave me the courage to come out of the closet as a cook.
Do you call yourself a chef now?
I'm just a cook. I cook my mother's recipes.
What would you eat for your last meal?
My mother's meatballs.
You'd have her cook for you? That's sweet.
I'd make 'em myself. I'm a better cook than her. Whenever I go home, my dad makes me cook for him.
Any other cuisines you like to cook?
I do Cuban for my wife. I really enjoy Mexican.
What have you not attempted?
Chinese. That's a totally different style.
What advice would you give a first time chef?
I would tell you to work in a the kind of restaurant with the kind of food you like. Learn as much as you can. Then I would try to talk you out of it. There's so much stress. People don't realize how much stress it is to try to get out 100 plates at one time and every one of them has to be perfect. I've worked so many jobs. I've worked construction, I was in the Marine Corps, I was a boxer. The most stressful by far is cooking. Other than being Mr. Mom.