I stumbled upon this week’s Five Questions featured guest when flipping through the channels, literally stumbling on this show “Future Food” on the Planet Green Channel. In the show, Chefs Homaro Cantu and his pastry chef at the time Ben Roche, showed the possibilities of changing the way we think about food. From making edible “styrofoam” peanuts, to their edible menus, to showing how we could make bitter weeds palatable which would allow people in third-world countries to eat more food around them, the show was all about thinking of food differently.
This week’s feature, Chef Homaro Cantu, was homeless from the ages of 6-9, and because of this, is constantly thinking of ways to eliminate world hunger, and make farming truly sustainable again. He worked under esteemed Chef Charlie Trotter for years, has beaten Chef Morimoto on Iron Chef, and runs Chicago restaurants “Moto" and it’s newer sibling, "iNG" (Imagining New Gastronomy), two of the most unique dining experiences in the world. He’s also prepping to open "Berrista Coffee,” which is a coffee shop in Chicago that will make great use of the miracle berries he champions as a way to help with world hunger. He’ll be using the taste-altering berries in espresso drinks and food products. He’s also a huge supporter of Share Our Strength and their No Kid Hungry campaign.
I chose Chef Homaro Cantu because I have an amazing amount of respect for his heart for people, his love of good food, his drive and ambition, and the fact that he is, one of the best chefs in the country. He’s also a dedicated husband, a proud Dad to two girls, and just an all-around nice guy. I had the joy of interviewing him via phone on Thursday, and here are his Five Questions. With a bonus I had to add.
1. I know you’re a huge coffee fan, and Chicago certainly has some great coffee, what’s your go-to coffee shop there?
"Dark Matters. They have an aged coffee, aged in oak barrels, it’s just really the most distinctive coffee I’ve had. Very different."
2. What is your favorite food to eat with Miracle Berries, the one that offers the greatest contrast?
"Lemon with soda water. Tastes like Sprite, except it’s healthy for you."
3. What is Berrista Coffee?
"It’s taking miracle berries, and putting it into a coffee shop. Taking all the pastries and things with sugar in it, removing the sugar, and creating a berry coffee experience. I can’t talk specifically about how, but the goal is basically to offer everything a Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts offers, but without sugar, at the same price point, and tastes even better. We’ll be making espresso, lattes, mochas, cappuccinos, all of it. We’re scheduled to open Spring/Summer."
4. What do you see as the next trend in food that will be a good thing?
"Healthy junk food. That’s what’s coming up. Having all your junk food, but it’s actually good for you. The lemon and soda (with miracle berry) is just one simple analog example. But, I think that idea is going to overtake everything."
5. If you could make one meal that encapsulated your favorite things, what would it be?
"My wife’s pizza. It’s a cross between a deep dish and a focaccia pizza that she makes, she bakes it in a black iron skillet so it gets a dark and black crust around the edges, and it’s a little thicker than a deep dish. It’s amazing."
Bonus Question: Favorite pizza in Chicago?
"My favorite kind of pizza place is the guy who is responsible for the pizza my wife bakes, it’s Burt Katz’s "Burt’s Pizza" in Morton Grove. He’s been making pizza in Chicago for over 40 years, and his stuff is the best. He’s an 88 year old guy, he goes to the market every morning, makes his pizza sauce, makes his dough three times a day…And it’s just him making the pizza and his wife serving the tables. It’s a dive, but it’s the best pizza in America in my opinion.
It’s like a thicker pan pizza. This is as handmade as it gets. The guy seasons his own sausage, he’s got his own way of doing it. After 40 years of making the same pizza, you can bet that it’s a work of art.”
You can find out more about his newest book, “The Miracle Berry Cookbook” by visiting here: http://mberry.us/miracle/miracle-berry-diet-cookbook
To order Miracle Berries, visit: http://mberry.us (You may remember, I sold hundreds of tickets to Miracle Berry Flavor Tripping Parties here in Atlanta last year with Scoutmob. They were a blast, and blew people’s minds.)
You can connect with Chef Homaro on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/Homarocantu
Watch this video from Homaro on “The Path to Zero Food Miles and True Sustainability.”
Check out the other Five Questions posts:
Emily Myers of Emily G’s Jams
Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Ice Creams
Jonathan Baker of Monday Night Brewing