For Food Network star Tyler Florence, good things have been coming in threes this year: In addition to launching a third gourmet food shop, he's ambitiously opening not one but three California restaurants, including San Francisco's Wayfare Tavern, Mill Valley's El Paseo and a Napa rotisserie shop, all the while juggling three kids, a new television show and his involvement with Wishbone salad dressings, delivering healthy salad recipes through a series of online cooking demonstration videos.
But Florence, 39, isn't daunted by the challenge, he admitted Tuesday night at a Wishbone-sponsored "Salad Night Live" event in NYC. "We started planting seeds there [for the restaurants] years ago and they're all coming up at the same time. Plus, buying in bulk to get a better price is a financial incentive. We're capable."
Capable indeed. With an impressive culinary background that stems from his start in professional kitchens at age 15, to a flourishing line of successful cookbooks and organic baby food, to his rise to fame as a Food Network chef and host, Florence is as at home in front of the camera -- having recently hosted the Travel Channel's upcoming Food Wars series -- as in his private kitchen. He reminisces back to his culinary start, when the Food Network "had two cameras and that was the whole network... And it was really bad, but I loved every minute of it!"
His culinary ambition is a simple one: discovering and publicizing "how one can take restaurant recipes and take all the flutter out of them and make them simple and delicious," priding himself with having a "Rolodex of flavors" and an "ability to understand where people come from." It is his continued assurance of accessibility that has kept Florence grounded as a chef of the people -- and a likely proponent of the food truck revolution.
"It's a dynamic way of eating; the old way is new again," raves Florence, stating his plan to employ food trucks for his rotisserie restaurant. He admires that food trucks allow younger chefs to avoid getting held back by the economy -- with lower overhead, trucks can be started with roughly $60,000, compared to the millions typically invested in restaurants. It's a "lesson about economics," he says.
When asked about other foreseeable food trends, Florence notes that "vegetables are going to be really big this year," anticipating a "boycott of meat -- everything but bacon. Pork was taken to such heights that it became gluttonous. Vegetables will start to serve more as a flavor point or focus."
It's not surprising that the chef who reportedly grows hundreds of sprouts in the garnish garden of his Marin County, Calif., home would vouch for the resurgence of vegetables. "Salad should be respected and kept as full and organic as possible," he added. For more advice and recipes from Florence on jazzing up your greens, head to Wish-bone.com.