Top Chef's Tom Collichio may be best known for his Italian cuisine, but that doesn’t stop him from breaking out and experimenting with a paella pan every once in a while. At a recent lunch celebrating Bing’s new Food & Drink app, which highlights more than 100,000 recipes from world-renowned chefs such as Collichio, the Craft owner cooked us a finger-lickin' three course meal himself and demo’d many of the features of the app -- our favorite was the hands free mode that lets users move through ingredients and steps without having to touch a tablet with dirty hands. When he was through, we sat down with Mr. Collichio himself and grilled him on Thanksgiving prep, 2014’s hot new ingredients and how he experiments with Latin flavors.
What are some of the Latin ingredients you try to incorporate into your cooking? How do you like to use them?
That’s interesting, because this summer I cooked a lot of rice dishes and I got into a chicken and rice kick, which turned in paella. I was cooking with more Latin flair. Cilantro, of course, and also rice; I say rice as a main ingredient because I mess around with it and I use saffron.
Any peppers you like to use?
I did use peppers and also chorizo -- that good combination of seafood, chorizo, and pork. I think limes are an underused ingredient in cooking. Most people, when they have fish, think of lemon. I think of lime.
2013 was the year of quinoa, so we’re asking chefs their prediction for the “hot” ingredient of 2014? Any thoughts?
I don’t follow trends, so I didn’t realize quinoa was the hot thing in 2013. Am I crazy, or did I hear broccoli was the new it thing. That’s what I heard. Broccoli’s the new kale.
I also think things like high end and hard-to-find chocolates [will be big]. When people get into something, they want to take it to the next level. Everybody loves chocolate. There’s so many if you go to Whole Foods and go to the chocolate section. That’s it, the next trend.
What’s your favorite Latin dish?
Ceviche is always great. Paella, I’m really proud of that, it’s something I’ve never made in my life. I went out and got a huge paella pan. I didn’t want to cook it over the stove. So, it just happened to fit perfectly right over the top of my grill.
So you grilled your paella?
Well, you don’t grill the bottom if it’s in a pan; you want the charcoal because there is some space between the pan and if you put a lid on it produces smoke, like in a wood fire, so you have all that wood flavor in the paella.