As part of this week’s profile of Kojo Nnamdi , I asked the talk show host a series of rapid-fire questions about his diet, his favorite places to eat and whether he’s now a celebrity in local food circles. Below are his edited answers.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
My absolute favorite restaurant? We’re sitting in it (Indique Heights).
Your favorite chef and why?
Jose Andres …because he can do so many things with lentil peas, by which I mean Jose Andres understands how poor people eat. He understands how middle-class people eat. He understands how rich people can afford to eat, and he’s able to feed people at all of those levels.
Your favorite neighborhood place?
Do you follow a diet?
Yes, I don’t eat red meat as a general rule. I limit myself to chicken and fish. I try to eat as much fruit and vegetables as I possibly can. I still think I eat too many fried foods, because I eat out so much, but that’s about it. Not any more regimented than that, and I jog. I’m not big on desserts. I’m usually too full by the time I finish eating. I used to have a habit of ordering my desserts first. I used to order my desserts first, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat them afterwards, but then that became anti-social.
Your favorite food that you’d be embarrassed to tell people about?
Black pudding. It’s made with the blood and entrails of cows. Absolutely disgusting...It’s my guilty pleasure. It’s blood pudding. It’s completely embarrassing, I shouldn’t be eating it, but I can’t help myself. I love the stuff.
When you do cook, is there a dish you like to prepare?
Yep, chicken chow mein. [Laughs.] I have my own recipe...I make it with very, very thin noodles, and I use a variety of flavors: I use red peppers, peppers and corn and chicken and onions and garlic...There was some fundraiser when I was still a bachelor cooking for my kids …and I made my own unique Chinese-Caribbean version of chicken chow mein. It was a huge pan, about as big as this table, and I took it to this table, and it was gone – in like 10 minutes.
Your favorite food program that you’ve done?
That’s a difficult one. I think it would probably be the one I did with... Monica Bhide on spices. One of the very first ones. I remember using the phrase, ‘Monica Bhide is our consultant for all things spice,’ and I’m fascinated by spices and the way they are used in different parts of the world.
Your favorite food city other than Washington, D.C.?
New Orleans. No question.
Have you become a celebrity in local food circles because of your weekly show?
To my absolute surprise, yes, because a lot of chefs think that I’m a foodie. I seem to have fooled a lot of people into thinking that I have expertise where I have none. [Laughs.]
Do you like being treated special in restaurants?
One wants to be always seen as an ordinary person, who’s treated like everyone else, but one also appreciates special attention. And because...I don’t have to write reviews of these restaurants, I do enjoy being treated special every now and then. It doesn’t happen at all restaurants, but I do enjoy it. Unfortunately, I still have to pay.