You know you're good when the Four Seasons Hotel has kept you since 1996. Chef Patrick Boucher has been able to travel the world on behalf of the famous hotel chain, and has been able to sample many local cuisines. One thing remains the same, though, wherever he goes: "It's quality and the freshness of the food that come first." We can't argue with that.
I'm sure all the dishes on each of your menus are like your children, but if you had to choose only one dish from the menu, which one are you most proud of?
Specifically the ginger-steamed sea bass with couscous, braised chard, and a light lobster beurre blanc. That's the one we're really happy about, and we're working on some fall stuff now that is very exciting for us.
Most popular item on the menu?
As far as appetizers go, it would be the crab cakes, which are very popular; and the Miami Spice seafood gumbo. With the main course, it would be the sea bass, which is a seared grouper with pineapple miso. On the night side, it would be the pastrami rack of lamb.
How would you describe Miami's dining scene?
I honestly don't get out much, with two young kids, it's hard to get out there. But it seems very energetic and eclectic, from what I've seen. There are a lot of up-and-coming restaurants, there seems to be a new one opening up every day. My favorite area to be in is the Design District.
The secret to cooking perfect pasta?
With cooking the pasta, it's just a matter of cooking it al dente. And you have to finish it with the real deal Parmigiana. That's pretty much it.
At what point did you realize you were destined to be a chef?
I didn't know I was destined, per se, but I was working at a restaurant, with a German chef there at the time. Just the way he was working, in control of everything in the kitchen, it made me just want to go into chef school and become a chef.
The 5 ingredients every home kitchen should have?
Parmigiana, lemon, eggs, and I have to say cream and fresh parsley. If you've got those, you can do anything. Oh, and peanut butter, definitely, and a bottle of vodka in the freezer doesn't hurt either.
The 5 utensils every home kitchen should have?
A sharp knife, "sharp" being the operative word there; a good-sized cutting board, a hand mixer, a nice, good strainer, a proper/industrial fry pan, one that you can't bend in half or anything like that; and a good peppermill.
Your fondest food-related memory?
I have a couple. I had just finished cooking school, I was in NYC, and had dinner at the Lafayette Hotel and Jean George Vongerichten, he was the restaurant chef of the kitchen. My other is just my grandmother's leftover turkey sandwiches after Christmas.
First dish you learned to make?
Sandwiches and simple stuff, since I started cooking school later on in life. Mac and cheese though, definitely.
Favorite dish to make at home?
Pasta, with herbs from the garden. I also like doing barbecue ribs on the grill at home.
You've traveled to many places with the Four Seasons, from Dubai to California, and everywhere in between. Where would you say was your favorite?
Right now, my fondest memories are from my time in Bali. The people, the culture, the life experience in general. The indigenous cooking, all of it, is definitely something to remember.
It's obvious you can cook in many styles. But what would you say is your favorite to eat?
Mama's style in the kitchen. It's food that's done from the heart, definitely.