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Catching Up With Chris Cosentino

Since he competed in the Next Iron Chef two Summers ago, San Francisco's acclaimed offal-chef, Chris Cosentino, has been a very busy guy. He's worked nights at his head-to-tail rustic Italian restaurant, Incanto, opened a salumeria, Boccalone, at the Ferry Building in SF, and filmed a new television show, Chef vs. City, for the Food Network. Last week Chris took some time out of his hectic day-to-day to show me the graffiti-style "Shut Up and Cook" mural in the kitchen and to chat about everything from his 4-year-old son's eating habits to why he actively tweets. Find out what the chef had to say and read more.

On the Aug. 7 debut of Chef vs. City: It's very exciting, but it makes you nervous. We've already shot the entire show, but I don't get to see any of the final edits. I am what I am.

On food trends: I don't think food is trendy at all. I'm not reinventing anything here at Incanto. I'm just reintroducing. It's a realization of the past. Folks are more connected to where their food comes from. People are more interested in food — they're sharing with their neighbors, they're joining meat co-ops. They feel more connected to food because it's the ethical thing to do, not because it's trendy. You could say that Korean food is trendy right now, but to me a trend is something that comes, gets really popular, and goes away. Korean food isn't going to go away. It's just that more people are aware of Korean food. It's becoming mainstream, but it's not a trend. It's like bacon, people aren't going to stop eating bacon. Ever.

On his love affair with offal: Working in restaurants you see all the meat come in. Sure, there's always foie gras and sweetbreads, but when I came to work here [at Incanto] I wanted to cook rustic peasant food and the basis for this type of food is using every piece of meat. Using the whole animal. I've started harvesting my own animals and that changes your perspective.

On the one thing he won't eat: I eat everything. The only item I ever disliked — it turned my stomach — was balut.

On what's next for Boccalone: We just launched the mortadella hot dog. I like to do a hot dog during baseball season. We already make mortadella, but now we are just packaging it in a different way. I plan to continue rolling with what we are doing. I like to make really good consistent products. This is what we strive to do on a daily basis.

On how the Internet has changed the role of the modern chef: I have a lot of fun with Twitter. It's only 140 characters, so you really have to think about what you are saying. These sort of things are important because people want to communicate. People want to be in contact with chefs. They want to know how to cook, they want to ask questions. With my website, I try to bridge the gap. It gives me direct contact with the people. The Internet, Twitter, blogs have broken down a barrier. There is more exchanging of information occurring. I try to answer all the emails I get.

On raising a foodie son: My son will eat anything. He's had tripe, he's had beef heart tartar. At the Ferry Building last Saturday, he ate a dozen oysters by himself and he's 4 years old!

Source: Lisa Hamilton

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