Eleven Madison Park's Daniel Humm on How Cooking Is Like Marathoning, The Hurt Locker, and Getting Sick of Fried Chicken and Pork Belly
Earlier today, we talked to Eleven Madison Park's executive chef, Daniel Humm, about his four-star review, recognizing Frank Bruni, Twittering chefs, and Obama's first term.
Now, in the second half of the interview, Humm talks about how sports and cooking are similar, his thoughts on war and The Hurt Locker, and having it up to here with fried chicken and pork belly.
Do you watch TV?
I watched the Olympics a little bit. I don't watch TV that much. Some sports and some movies. I watch the basketball playoffs. I watch soccer, especially when it's the World Cup that's coming up.
Who do you root for in the World Cup?
I'm rooting for Switzerland only for the first week until they're out, and then I have to pick another one.
What Olympic events did you watch?
I like the skiing, Alpine skiing. But then I also watched the last day, the 50K cross country skiing. I'm a marathon runner, so for me there were a lot of similarities between the two sports.
I also love to watch cycling. I love the Tour de France. It's very exciting because this year Lance Armstrong is coming back and I think he's pretty incredible. I used to be on the junior Swiss National cyclists team. So looking at Lance Armstrong is so fascinating.
I feel that it's part of my success that I look at cooking like a sport a little bit. You know, for every service you have to prepare, and then you really have to be in that moment and the whole team works together. The repetition is our job. You have to really enjoy the repetition.
A lot of the younger kids, they get bored. They feel like they've done it three times already, so let me do something else. And in the beginning, you do have to do different things to learn it all, but in the end, no matter what position you end up in in the kitchen, including mine, it's basically everyday the same. I mean, maybe the menu changes, but you serve 100 people at lunch, 150 for dinner. It's more or less the same. And if you get bored with that, you're in the wrong business.
It's the same way in sport, people say running is boring. But you've got to somehow find excitement in that. You've got to find excitement in these tasks, ways you can improve on a daily basis.
Where do you do your training runs? Any places in particular you like to run in the city?
I'm running almost everyday, maybe between eight and 16 miles a day. And I run some races in the city: the New York marathon, some high altitude races in Colorado.
We moved six months ago to Montclair, New Jersey, and there's a nature reservation: I have a six mile loop in there, and depending on how I feel I do two or two-and-a-half loops. Some days I take running stuff to work and go off to Central Park. I love to run there. The other day, my wife asked: Do you miss running in Central Park. And you know, I really do. It's funny that when you live outside the city, and there's so much more green, that you miss Central Park.