Edward was born and raised in East Harlem, New York with his family, second generation from Ireland and Germany. At just thirteen years old Edward got a job at an Italian restaurant in New York as a dishwasher. He worked his way up until he went to Johnson & Wales Culinary School. Then he owned five restaurants, recent one called Chef Eddie G’s Kitchen.
The title of “celebrity chef” has been with him for about ten years, a TV show he was in called Coast 2 Coast Cuisine and preparing meals for celebrities. Also, hosting Food & Wine Festivals, private parties and so on, from east coast to the west coast, also around the globe. It makes you wonder, where will his next food adventure be at next? I consider him as one of the “real” successful chefs because he travels to different parts of the world doing what he is passionate about and enjoys trying new meals, then shares his experiences with others. He may seem to be like a constant joker at times, but he has the drive to help others, learn and teach.
I can’t wait to watch and learn new cooking techniques from him! Ok, I should try to stop saying how incredible he is and start the interview already.
I.A: (hears him speaking with a New York accent) Where did you grow up?
Chef: I was born in East Harlem and raised on Long Island.
I.A: When did you start learning how to cook at home?
Chef: I was in the kitchen cooking with my mom when I was six years old. So I always try to outdo what she was doing. The one thing I can’t outdo is make her lasagna.
I.A: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a chef?
Chef: I don’t know, that’s a great question. I started when I was thirteen, I was a dishwasher at a place all my buddies had already started working at, a Italian restaurant. Then I got promoted to prep cook and line cook, I really liked the business. The chef who was a mentor of mine said “you should become a chef.” So I went to a culinary school in Providence, Rhode Island. I stayed in the business my entire life.
I.A: So you got to meet other chefs when you worked in the restaurant business.
Chef: Yes and also I’m a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain around the same time Anthony Bourdain was making his way through New York City. So, while I was in culinary school, I got to watch him evolve.
I.A: Did you meet Anthony Bourdain?
Chef: No, I never had dinner with him, but prepared meals for him at various culinary events. He’s been my mentor.
I.A: I watch his shows, he’s really great!
Chef: He travels the world and learns culinary cuisine. He’s a great chef! A lot of these guys are not chefs, they can’t get into a kitchen in real life. I like the real chefs.
I.A: Yeah it’s nice to travel, discover different cultures and try meals served from actual people there.
Chef: Over the last three years I probably went to over twenty countries, filming and learning cuisines.
I.A: That’s a lot!
Chef: I’ve been very fortunate. I filmed, learned the cuisines and cultures around the planet.
I.A: What is your favorite food memory? Any family meals or other.
Chef: That’s a great question. I guess Thanksgiving, since my mom cooks for all of us every year. Around Christmas, we have pasta, lasagna, sea food and stuff. I just like having different meals with different cultures and local foods that I put my own spin to it. But I don’t know…for me I have a ton food memories all the time you know haha.
I.A: It’s hard to chose just one, right?
Chef: It would be a difficult task because now that you mentioned it I could think of a ton. I could think of being at a restaurant in the Caribbean and cooking there. Using the local ingredients into my cooking. Being in Europe and using local ingredients as well.
I.A: What advice you give students at culinary schools?
Chef: Hahaha! I often joke about getting out of this restaurant business. You know restaurant business isn’t meant for everybody, you’re working when everyone else isn’t working and you’re not working when everyone is working. Also, you’re working on holidays, working long hours and blah blah blah, but it is such a great and rewarding industry.
I.A: Favorite/most helpful home kitchen/restaurant equipment or gadget?
Chef: That’s a great question too! I think the one thing should probably be the knives. I have a great knives sponsor named Gunter Wilhelm, I’ve used their knives for the last five years. Their knives are absolutely amazing! It’s heavy in your hands, balanced and you get a nice clean cut, which is what you want. I think knives are the most important thing and also a great blender and saute pans as well.
I.A: Best tips you’d give chefs who plan to start their own restaurant/food business?
Chef: It is a lot of work, a restaurant is like a baby, you have to care for it every minute of the day. So, a lot of work.
I.A: It seems stressful to be there and make sure the restaurant is going well.
Chef: I must be honest with you this has been the least stressful since I sold the restaurant at the end of last year. I went to the Caribbean for five months, California for a month, then New England for a month. Then I go to Miami on Tuesday. So, this has been the least stressful time of my life and that’s what I’m looking for right now, I don’t want to be stressed. I like being alive.
I.A: Yeah, you gotta take care of yourself first.
I.A: Funniest kitchen incident(s)?
Chef: Well I’m a class clown, so I’m always joking and stuff. I give people nicknames, so I call people whatever nickname that comes to my mind at the time. I try to create a culture that’s fun, were it’s like a party every night.
I.A: Was there any pranks?
Chef: Haha! I don’t think I could share. I can’t share that one…and that one…can’t share that one.
I.A: How’s it like hosting International Food Festivals? Which is your favorite place you’ve been so far and why?
Chef: I do about thirtyFood and Wine Festivals a year. The Super Bowl is one of my favorites. South beach is definitely one of my favorites. I’ve been to Haiti…I like them all. It’s cool to have interaction with new people, being on stage, doing culinary demos, answering questions, this is what I like to do. Philadelphia is a good one, Atlantic City is a good one. Also, Las Vegas, I enjoy meeting fans at all the Food and Wine Festivals.
I.A: New York or Chicago style pizza?
Chef: The Chicago pizza I love, I love! I just lost fifty five pounds because I stopped eating pizza.
I.A: (thinks about cheesy goodness pizza and how it is impossible to stop eating it)
Chef: At new years I stopped eating pizza, drinking soda and started eating fish, becoming healthy. I like New York pizza better, I can’t eat deep dish pizza all the time, but I like eating deep dish pizza once a year. But I love, love deep dish pizza!
I.A: When was the moment when you got the title ‘Celebrity Chef’ and how has your food businesses been since then?
Chef: I’ve cooked for Jaime Foxx, doing Coast 2 Coast Cuisine, Disney and doing all these live culinary demos for Food Network. So I probably had that title for about ten years, I guess. It was funny cause a writer saw me at three different events for NFL alumni and the guy said, “You’re a celebrity chef for celebrities.” I was like, “Wow that’s cool!”
I’ve been a chef for that actor Jonathan Goldsmith and his wife Barbara, I’ve been cooking for his family for the last ten years. I really give them a lot of credit, they made my career what it is today, they helped guide me to where I am…And my parents. My parents are my biggest fans, they come to all my Food and Wine Festivals, they get treated like gold whenever they come to the events.
I.A: Who in the food industry do you most admire and why?
Chef: Anthony Bourdain, Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck and José Andrés as well. Real chefs who can work in the kitchen and cook, they each have great personality.
I.A: What is the most difficult ingredient you’ve worked with?
Chef: We caught an eel when we went spear finishing and cooking that was challenging. Also, cooking alligators is on the challenging side. It’s a tight balance because I’m into animals, but I could never kill an animal, once it’s killed I can prepare it.
I.A: For me I think it’s octopus, someone brought me that and I’m like, “I don’t know how to cook this thing.” But it was good to try.
Chef: Haha! It’s nice and easy, the way I cook octopus is I boil it first. The taste of the octopus is not very flavorful, I love to grill it until it’s crispy. So the way you cook it is boil it first and chill it, then you marinate it with olive oil, garlic or any other spices you want. Grill it and it crisps up, almost chard outside of it and served with the salad or pasta.
I.A: I’ll try cook it that way. I think I overcooked mine or something because I tried biting it and couldn’t so I just took it out, haha!
Chef: You have to break it down. There are some places in the world that I heard, in Greece or Italy were they take the octopus, put it bags then leave them in the water. Then they let the rocks and the pounding of the bag of octopus break down that way. For me I rather boil nice and tender then marinate and put them on the grill. To me I think that’s the best way.
I.A: What’s your favorite drink?
Chef: I’m not a big drinker, I guess wine, I love California wine.
I.A: What meals do you make for yourself and/or family at home?
Chef: I love small plates and small bites. I try to use local ingredients in the area. I’m doing an event on Thursday in Miami, making a steak with a horseradish pesto sauce. So, my family eats the meals that I try to cook, it’s like a test kitchen.
I.A: Are there any foods you dislike?
Chef: Nope I like everything.
I.A: Some chefs don’t like using cilantro or parsley in their meals cause of disliking taste.
Chef: Yeah, like I said, I like everything. I love trying local spices, products and anything else. That’s the concept TV show I’m working on now called Locavore. I go to an area and I learn about the foods in that area, then I do my own spin with it and pair it with a drink.
I.A: Any favorite cookbooks and any you recommend to anyone? Why?
Chef: No, to me…get your hands on a cookbook or the internet or whatever. I don’t think there is one go to cookbook.
I.A: You have a cookbook, right?
Chef: I do, I have a cookbook and I’m working on the second one now.
I.A: What’s your ‘Last Supper’ meal? Also known as ‘Death Row’ meal as Anthony Bourdain says.
Chef: That’s so wonderful because I thought that’d be a cool concept for a TV show called The Last Supper.
I.A: I would watch that!
Chef: Yeah. It would probably be filet mignon, lobster tail or surf and turf. I love filet! Or the deep dish pizza.
I.A: What inspired your TV show Coast 2 Coast Cuisine? What interested you to be a part of it?
Chef: That was me and my buddy from California were asked to put a TV show concept, then we came up with Coast 2 Coast Cuisine. The buddy of mine has been a chef for his entire life and we always notice whenever we were together we were cooking everything different, like when we caught fish and prepared it two different ways. So, we started to notice this over the years, from lamb, pork and chicken. This is the concept of the show, having two buddies use same ingredients and cook in two different ways. Then he got married, didn’t want to do the whole traveling thing anymore, he wasn’t as passionate about it as I was and I just stuck with it. That’s how Locavore was born about two years ago, hopefully it comes out in October. It took a lot of hard work and mental work.
I.A: What’s next? Any projects you’re currently working on?
Chef: Locavore. We’ve been working with Executive Global Tours, were people come to watch me cook. I do a lot of licensing deals, I have an opportunity in Miami this Thursday, teaching culinary classes, Food and Wine Festivals in Florida, California and other places. Continue the goal I started, which is to travel the world, filming and learning, then see how long that will take me, hopefully that starts in September to go around the planet.
I.A: Also, your second cookbook, right?
Chef: Somewhere around Christmas if I get all the recipes together.
I.A: Tips to those who want to travel and try different foods?
Chef: Don’t worry about the money, that you’re always happy, you only live once, so try to pursue something that makes you happy. It’s so funny because growing up my dad used to say I should be a dentist because everybody has a mouth, so I became a chef because everybody has a mouth. Whatever it is you want to in life, go get it, make it happen! Try to make it happen, do whatever it takes. When I first started on TV ten years ago I thought I would be on TV regularly, it took ten years to get to this point. So, I’ve been really lucky, luck is a part of it too.
Edward F. Gallagher III
Chef Eddie G Inc