We had the special opportunity to do a Q&A with Chef David Siegel. Check it out below!
What was your favorite dish to eat as a child and why?
I can’t lie to make myself seem more sophisticated. As a kid and still, to this day, my favorite thing to eat is pizza. It’s hard to come up with a more perfect food. And, despite the fact that different people have different tastes, I think pizza is a food that most (if not all) of us can come together and enjoy. It’s everyone’s go-to dish for celebrating special occasions and does a pretty good job cheering us up when we need it. I’ve made pizza at restaurants in professional wood-burning ovens and at home with my family in our apartment. What could possibly top pizza?
If there is one piece of advice you could give your 10-year-old self, what would it be?
I’d tell the ten-year-old me to find some activities or hobbies that I really like and really focus on them. I think when I was a kid, I watched a little too much TV and wasted some precious time that I could have been doing something like cooking at home. Sure, sometimes it’s nice to kick back and be lazy, but there are so many interesting things we can do, and with the internet, it’s possible to learn about anything. You never know what path a new hobby might lead you down.
What is your current favorite dish to cook and why?
My favorite thing to cook is a simple roasted chicken with vegetables (shout out to Chef Capon for his awesome recipe!). I don’t cook chicken often. I live with a strict vegetarian and our family mostly eats plant-based foods. That shift in my diet has been really positive and actually helped me love my favorite chicken dish even more. Now, every once in a while when I fire up the oven for that bird, it’s more special and more wonderful than when I would eat meat every day. In addition to helping me savor and appreciate my favorite dish to cook, eating less meat is good for our planet too.
What is one major life lesson that you learned through cooking/food?
Through cooking, I learned that I wanted to devote my life to public service. Cooking in restaurants was fun, but something was missing. When I started teaching cooking classes, I realized that the missing piece was that in restaurants I wasn’t helping improve my community in any real way. I decided to study nutrition science and use my love of cooking and teaching in a more productive manner. Now I’m a Registered Dietitian, I work with communities all over New York City, and I still get to talk about food all day long!
Do you think food education and culinary programs like SNACC are important? If so, why do you think they are important?
Definitely yes! We’re all born loving sweet and salty foods. It takes time and hard work to learn how to cook nutritious meals for yourself and your family. If you’ve learned how to make even just one new dish in the kitchen, be proud of yourself! The earlier and the more often kids are exposed to vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other healthy things, the better chance we have at fixing our broken food system.
Thanks for sharing, Chef!!