RORSCHACH NOODLES, BURRITO SUPREMACY, AND
DELICIOUS FISH: AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
WITH SASHA PERL-RAVER
Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for RadioFree.com
October 11, 2010
In the Food Network "docu-soap" Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, a sextet of skilled culinary artists serve the whims and appetites of high end--and often high maintenance--clientele in America's most famous zip code. Having enjoyed success in its initial run of six episodes, the series returns for another round of creative cookery.
Reprising her spot amongst the show's titular group of professionals for a second season, self-taught chef and fellow writer Sasha Perl-Raver took a moment to entertain us with a food-related Q&A. In this exclusive interview, our colleague previews Private Chefs' newest episodes, urges us to explore healthier eating options, and makes an argument for the burrito's evolutionary superiority over the taco.
The second season of Private Chefs of Beverly Hills debuts on the Food Network on October 12.
RadioFree.com: How has life in the world of high cuisine been since our last interview?
SASHA: It's been nuts. I've also been writing a bunch, traveling for work, and cooking for an actor as they prepared for a film role. I can't name names but when that film comes out and the world has a very hot body to enjoy, in small part, I'll know my food played a pivotal role in the foxiness.
Speaking of celebrities with their private chefs, personal trainers, and hefty bankrolls...Is it possible to have a diet that is healthy and tasty and filling and inexpensive? People talk a big game about it being do-able, but there's a reason why 99 cent fast food burgers do well...
Of course it's possible. In fact it's easy. Eat a lot of fresh fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. The end. When we're catering events, the most expensive things are always the meats and the cheeses. You don't want to know the reasons why those burgers only cost 99 cents, but needless to say, it's a bad scene all the way around. Cheap protein can be found in beans, tofu, quinoa, eggs. Add in some starch and fresh veggies and you're good to go. You'll weigh less, you'll feel better, and you'll be treating the earth more kindly. As far as tasty goes, that's all about seasoning, my friend. Fresh herbs, kosher salt, a little Sriracha and you're in business!
What awesome shenanigans are you excited for in the newest Private Chefs episodes?
I can't wait to see myself with Lorenzo Lamas and Peter Brady. I'm a blusher who has zero poker face and I was over-the-moon excited to work for both of those guys because I've been a fan since I was a kid. Renegade, Falcon's Crest, The Brady Bunch--those were all pillars of my childhood. I can't wait to see how hard I geeked out! I have to figure out how to lock episodes on my DVR so I have them for posterity. Lorenzo also made me do something that I've been terrified to try since I was a little kid. I can't say what, but I will say it was an epic moment that I'll never forget.
Wow, good to know that Lorenzo Lamas is Lorenzo Lamas, but Christopher Knight is still "Peter Brady" in your eyes. Do you have your own personal Sam the Butcher to hook you up with the primo stuff?
[laughs] So true. You have no idea! I was so Alice that day! And I was totally waiting for Sam the Butcher to bring Alice the meat. [laughs] I wanted to make an avant garde throwback and make Curried Pork Chops (for his wife, Adrianne Curry) with Midnight Rice (Christopher Knight) and Apple Chutney, but I was dissuaded.
In your book, what is the most delicious, delicious animal?
I'm not a big fan of eating a ton of animals, especially not the cute ones. But no matter how hard I try, I can't get away from a damn fine piece of fish. Albacore tuna: the cheeks, the collar, a fillet, as sushi, on a sandwich, in a salad...That's hard for me to pass up.
Having previously worked on Private Chefs' original six episodes, what skills, lessons, or tricks did you learn and carry over to help you in the new season?
More than anything, I think I learned to relax and not get too overwhelmed. The first season was an emotional tsunami for me and I didn't know how to handle it. I got sick when we were shooting the second episode and never got better. It turned out to be acute tonsillitis, which is really weird because I've never had an issue with my tonsils in my life. After almost three months of antibiotics, I ended up having to get them removed right after the show started airing, which is seriously no picnic as an adult. I think that was my body's way of dealing with all the stress and my terror about being on TV and having people judge me. This time around, I'm just having fun.
How do you think you outwardly respond to the high-pressure scenarios of the show? Do you become the inspirational leader, the lockdown professional, or the colleague from hell?
I love pressure! I flourish under it. When stress runs high and endorphins start rushing, that's when I'm happiest and at my best. Of those three options, I'd say I'm the inspirational leader. But can we call it the Derek Jeter? Just because he's inspirational, a leader, and super sexified too.
Is the format of the show still the same? Has the time come to eliminate, fire, backstab, or destroy someone?
[laughs] No one gets eliminated and no one gets Trump-ed on our show. But maybe if we do a third season we can do it American Gladiator-style. Or what if it was a cage match? Two chefs enter, one chef leaves. And it'll air on Spike instead of Food Network.
I'm looking at a promotional photo of you getting your hands all up in something pink. After your automatic sense of humor knee-jerks with several dirty jokes, could you explain what's going on in this picture?
I can--but now that you've phrased it like that I think I'd prefer to let your mind run wild. Maybe that photo can be like a Rorschach test for my prospective dates from now on. What do you think I'm doing in that photo?
I think you're trying to take something that isn't naturally pink and force it to be pink. And that you're having fun in a mad scientist way. Am I close?
You are close! Actually, for that party we had to make everything pink and it had to be done naturally. Those are naturally pink somen noodles. Sidenote: I kind of loath the color pink. It's just too grossly in-your-face girly for me. That was a tough, tough party. I was trying to make sesame noodles in the style of the ones I grew up eating from delivery Chinese places in Manhattan throughout my childhood.
As you know, it's often easy to spot inaccurate procedural details in movies and TV shows if you know what to look for. Is there a cooking cliche or myth prominent in film or television that drives you nuts?
There isn't a cooking cliche that I can think of, but when you can tell the actors aren't actually eating, that drives me crazy like Britney Spears!
How is it that mankind has taken so long to finally invent the taco shell that doesn't tip over?
See, I'm a burrito eater, so I think that's just nature's way of weeding out the weaker Mexican food. With the exception of "The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada" in Los Feliz and El Cholo's chicken fajitas, I'm a burrito fiend. Chipotle por vida, yo!