Joy Johnson: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Tim Andriola: When I was 10 years old I was a dishwasher for my dad at his diner. I’d help out with tasks like toasting bread. When I was 14, I was a dishwasher for a local restaurant owned by a CIA graduate. He took me under his wing, and I moved up from prep, to salads, to the hot side. When I was a junior in high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and he suggested I go to school for culinary arts.
JJ: Who are your mentors?
TA: Ron Bucher of Ron’s Beach House, NH. Also Chef Allen in Miami, with whom I worked for 7 years. I started as a busser, and I would come in the mornings and volunteer to work with the chef de cuisine. After 2-3 months of volunteering, they moved me to the kitchen. At 24, I became his chef de cuisine.
JJ: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
TA: The food mill- I use it for tomato sauce and gnocchi.
JJ: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
TA: San Francisco. People there are more aware of food and its connection to the land. There are so many ethnic influences. And it’s only 45 minutes from Napa.
JJ: What are your favorite food haunts in Miami?
TA: Yakosan, a local authentic Japanese restaurant off the beaten path.
JJ: What is your favorite spice? Why?
TA: I use peppercorn the most, and I also like cinnamon and garlic.
JJ: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
TA: Tell me something funny that’s happened to you in the kitchen. You need balance in the kitchen, and this tells me if they can poke fun at themselves and if they have a cool demeanor.
JJ: What advice/tip do you have for culinary students just getting started?
TA: Get an education and seek information. You can learn practical things in the kitchen, but there’s a lot more to learn, like being computer-literate and how to manage people. There’s psychology involved when dealing with people. It’s not just cooking.
JJ: What is your most memorable food memory?
TA: My first time making family meal at the restaurant in Italy, I grabbed a little of everything. I cooked everything properly, but I used so many ingredients compared to their simplistic cooking. They made fun of me and called it pasta Americana. This really shaped my career, learning the value of simplicity.
JJ: What are your favorite cookbooks?
TA: Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking and Mario Batali’s Babbo Cookbook.
JJ: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
TA: Continuing on the same path with my partner towards opening more restaurants with different concepts. We are looking for another location now.