Jenn Rice has been an acclaimed culinary arts and travel journalist for six years. Before covering food and travel, Rice covered health, wellness, and beauty. When she isn’t writing stories about being flagged for bringing caviar into the states, she’s busy making cheese balls.
I’ve known Jenn Rice for over a year now. We first met when I emailed her about potentially writing a story about her CurEat list “Restaurants with Major Interior Design Goals”. Little did I know that she would become one of my dearest friends. She is always the one to ask the questions and write about others, so I felt it was her turn to be the interviewee.
So, pull up a seat to the table and learn more about my friend (and CurEater) Jenn Rice, the woman who inspires so many people to try restaurants that are often overlooked.
- Most notable food memory? That would probably be when Francis Mallmann did fire cooking in Bariloche, in Patagonia, at his brother’s house.
- Most sought after dinner guest, living or not? Frida Kahlo. I would love to talk to her about women’s rights and what she thinks of the current state of the world right now.
- If you were not doing what you were doing what would you be? I would be an architect because that’s what I originally wanted to be.
- Junk food vice? Taco Bell. One time Taylor and I were on a road trip and I freaked out when I saw a sign for Taco Bell. Told her the next time we were going to stop I was going to plow through a Nachos bel grande value meal.
- What restaurant do you most want to visit? Osteria Francescana in Modena. 2020 goals.
- What is your favorite food city that you have been to? Bologna.
- What city do you most want to visit that you have not been to? Sicily. Solely to visit Frank Cornelissen‘s vineyards.
- What quality do you most look for in a vegetable? Just the right crunch. Never soggy. People always forget to blanch their broccoli and it makes me angry.
Breakfast and Lunch
- What’s your greatest food extravagance? In just under 24 hours I ate at three Michelin-starred restaurants, totaling 5 stars, and did not leave the hotel. You can read about it here.
- What/who do you listen to while cooking? I listen to a lot of classical and Ella Fitzgerald.
- When was the last time you cooked at home? What did you make?Christmas Eve. I made angnolotti for the first time ever. I was inspired by Missy Robbins’ version at Lilia in Brooklyn.
- Where would you love to cook a meal at? In Steve Mangano’s house because he won’t let anyone in his kitchen.
- What’s the most overrated ingredient? Anything truffle that is not straight up truffle. You don’t need to have truffle hot sauce because you are forgetting the whole point of the truffle itself.
- If you had the chance to redo one meal/cocktail you’ve ever served, which one would it be, what would you serve instead? I had a dinner party for 10 friends and I tried to overcomplicate pasta and make beet-colored pink pasta and all these fancy, extra tidbits. But, I didn’t realize the importance of good execution. I overcooked it and served pasta that fell apart and looked like brown mush. I would go back and not be so concerned about aesthetic over technique.
- If you were only allowed to keep one sense, what would it be and why? Taste because I could paint a picture in my head of what something might look like.
- If you could bring back one deceased relative to cook for, who would it be and what would you cook for them? My dad because I don’t think I ever cooked for my dad. I cook for my mom all the time now and she said my dad would really appreciate it. I would cook oyster stew because it was on of our favorite things to eat together.
- Is there a special recipe you would ask them about? His oyster stew and his chicken and dumplings recipe.
- Biggest culinary/bartender inspiration? Why? This sounds cliche but I would definitely say Anthony Bourdain because opened a new door to many people about food culture and traveling. And from there a movement about wanting to learn more about different food and culture was born.
- What book are you currently reading? Women Who Run with the Wolves. It’s a hard but really rewarding read and would recommend this to every woman I know.
- Biggest threat to Food & Beverage industry? Technology because with technology we don’t have to know anything anymore and we’re not using our brains for memory. Our parents and our grandparents were using their heads for recipes instead of reaching for technology. We rely on it way too much, even in the work place, even in restaurants.
- If you can change one thing about the food and beverage industry what would it be? I would change the birth of giant restaurant chains. It has destroyed many things. Consumers are clouded and we don’t know any better now. We forget about mom and pop restaurants and slow food. The chains are succeeding and the mom and pops are slowly dying but I believe it will turn around again in the next decade — or at least I hope so.
- How would you doctor up store bought Ramen? Two ways. Hot Ramen: I throw out the seasoning packets and use Bouillon paste to make my broth. Add in a protein like chicken or pork and then put a ton of scallions and herbs in the mix. I then throw in an egg and whatever I have in the fridge — and obviously Sriracha to spice things up. Cold Ramen: Boil the noodles, chill them in cold water and toss them in sesame oil. I add sesame seeds and a ton of herbs and cold protein. It’s a great lunch. You can also put it over lettuce.
- What imaginary figure would you most want to cook for? What would you serve? Pumbaa (because I know you have Instagram’s ‘What Disney Character are you’ on my head so whatever that lands on will be who I will cook for)! I would make him spaghetti and meatballs.
- What would you tell your 20 year old self? Don’t grow up too fast because now look at us — all we want to do is slather on anti-aging serums and become our youthful selves again.
- What’s your idea of a perfect meal? Simple. A big plate of meat and cheese and a glass of Lambrusco in Italy.
- What do you most value in your peers/team? Communication. People who enjoy food. And laughter.
- What’s your death row meal? A big ass plate of Bolognese.
- What is your motto? I’ll try anything once.