Michael Chernow is the founding father of the Meatball Shop empire and Seamore’s, the seafood spot you (and everyone else) most want to be at right now. It’s safe to say you’re familiar with his work.
And you’re about to become familiar with Food Porn, the show where he investigates the most hashtagged #foodporn spots in America. It will be on your television next month, so we sat down with the man to talk gargantuan meatballs, chef tips and some very strange sources of inspiration.
Our findings are below.
He practices what he preaches. “I have to be honest that about 80% of what I eat is fish and vegetables and 20% of my diet is meatballs.”
He heard one thing over and over from chefs on Food Porn. “‘It’s all about the GBD. It’s done when it’s golden, brown and delicious.’ So many different chefs said it.”
He didn’t even like fish as a kid. “I was not a fish person at all until I was 14 or 16 years old. Like in terms of eating it. I loved fishing, but I didn’t love to eat fish…”
… But he grew up fishing. “I’ve caught a 45-pound striped bass. It was off the coast of Montauk.”
The best meatball he ever had was a one-pounder at the Vegas Lavo. “I was truly blown away… It’s a huge meatball and they put a huge scoop of ricotta cheese on it—there’s a photo on my Instagram. It was so supple, so flavorful, soft, delicious, like perfect.”
His favorite dinner spots in town? “I love Frank Restaurant on 2nd Avenue between 5th and 6th Street. I’m a little biased because I worked there for a long time, but I believe that the environment there set the tone for all of my restaurants. The food is simple, delicious and consistent, and it’s always f**king good. I love Tomoe sushi on Thompson between Houston and Bleecker. I’ve been going there for years. The fish quality is amazing, it’s not over-the-top.”
He wishes he could sing. “Who would I like to sing like… Jeff Buckley.”
He was once inspired by a homeless Spanish man. “He had impeccable style.”