Zagat calls superstar chef Todd English's food "lusty, gutsy cooking." We happily agree. Here, you can nibble on some Todd trivia and a bonus recipe.
VITALS: Born August 29, 1960, in Amarillo, Texas; raised there, Atlanta, Georgia, and Branford, Connecticut.
EDUCATION: Guilford College, North Carolina; The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York; apprenticeships at Dal Pescatore in Canto Sull O'lio, Italy, and Paraccuchi in Locando D'Angello, Italy.
HOW HE GOT INTO THE BUSINESS: "One night, when I was 14, I stopped by to see my friend Ivan. He was working at a little Mexican place in Branford, Connecticut, and he asked if I had plans for the evening--thinking he had something great in mind, I said that I had none. Instead, he said that his dishwasher was sick and asked if I could help out. There was no dishwasher; you washed the pots and plates and silverware by hand. I just jumped right in and for some strange reason, I really loved it. I don't know why--well, okay, you got as much free beer as you wanted." (From Todd's first book, The Olives Table; see "His Books," below.)
BOY MEETS GIRL: In 1982, Todd met his wife-to-be, Olivia, during their studies at The Culinary Institute of America. "I took her picture for her school ID. You know, love at first snap." (From The Olives Table)
CAREER HIGHS: Working with Jean-Jacques Rachou at La Cote Basque in New York, and his top professional honors--especially his James Beard awards: "National Rising Star Chef" (1991), the Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence (1991), and "Best Chef: Northeast" (1994) .
NEAR-HIT CAREER: "It would have to be baseball, in that I wonder what would have happened if I had given it more of a shot," he told Nation's Restaurant News. "I played from the time I was 7 years old. My father was a first baseman coach," he told starchefs.com. "I had opportunities that I never really pursued--with some Miami teams and a few larger colleges--and then I ended up bailing and began cooking."
GUILTY PLEASURE: Peanut butter and jelly.
The Olives Table: Over 160 Recipes from the Critically Acclaimed Restaurant and Home Kitchen of Todd English, co-authored with Sally Sampson (Simon & Schuster, 1997).
The Figs Table: More than 100 Recipes for Pizza, Pastas, Salads, and Desserts, co-authored with Sally Sampson (Simon & Schuster, 1998).
The Olives Dessert Table: Spectacular Restaurant Desserts You Can Make at Home, co-authored with Paige Retus and Sally Sampson (Simon & Schuster, 2000).
HIS RESTAURANTS: Todd's restaurants consistently receive rave reviews for their worldbeat fare. Next stop? Maybe London. For now, head to:
Olives--his most acclaimed Mediterranean-influenced restaurant, with its original location near Boston in Charlestown, Massachusetts (617/242-1999; since 1989). Newer locations in Washington, D.C. (202/452-1866); Las Vegas (702/693-8181); Aspen (970/920-7356); and New York City (718/423-6095).
Figs--a family-friendly retreat known for its homey pizza and pastas. Massachusetts locations in Charlestown (617/242-2229); Boston (617/742-3447); Wellesley (781/237-5788); and Chestnut Hill (617/738-9992). There's also a location at New York City's LaGuardia Airport, Central Terminal Building (718/446-7600).
Miramar--fine dining at The Inn at National Hall, Westport, Connecticut; 203/222-2267 or www.innatnationalhall.com.
Greg Norman's Australian Grille--fine dining at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, SC; 843/361-0000.
Kingfish Hall--sumptuous seafood at Faneuil Hall, Boston; 617/523-8862.