Marc: Where would you like to see Bon Appétit in five years?
Barbara: We’re after world domination! Just kidding. But Bon Appétit has always been a leader in the field, and I only see bigger and better things for us in the future.
Marc: This is the fourth year that Bon Appétit will be doing Las Vegas Uncork’d. What kind of crowd typically attends? How has the crowd changed over the years?
Barbara: Well, typically, it’s an upscale, involved, and engaged group of men and women who are very supportive of the magazine and what we do. I’m always delighted to see a real cross-section in age as well. We have guests who come to us through the magazine, but increasingly, we see (and meet) those who come to us through bonappetit.com and our social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare). This is so great and encouraging to me. The Grand Tasting on Friday night (May 7 this year) is an excellent overview—we had 1,200 last year, looking at 1,500 this time—I meet people from everywhere, all ages, all having a fantastic time.
Marc: Is there any event you are especially looking forward to this year?
Barbara: It’s hard to pick just one. I really enjoy the dinner that I host on Thursday night at Guy Savoy—it’s lovely to kick off the weekend in an intimate way like this, with Guy’s superb food as the showcase. I also love the Grand Tasting because I get to see so many people and talk to them. I love that Alain Ducasse has two great events this year, Chef’s Table and Better by the Bay. Both are a wonderful opportunity to meet him. I’m really excited about my one-on-one interview with Wolfgang Puck. And the Interactive Luncheon at Wynn is always a favorite of mine because people really get to have hands-on participation; unique and fun.
Marc: How would you compare the Las Vegas food scene to Los Angeles and New York City?
Barbara: Las Vegas has a lot more glitz, but the food always delivers. In LA, we’re more laid back, and experimentation is still alive and well. No rules, that’s why so many trends start in LA. The food is wonderful, and there is also a lot of ethnic diversity. New York runs the gamut from fancy to food trucks—to cater to the huge number of people who eat out as a matter of course there rather than cook at home.
Marc: It wasn’t long ago when you had to be desperately enamored with food, or just desperate, to choose a life as a chef. In an age where chef’s have rock-star status, more and more people are gravitating towards the profession. Do you think this is having a positive or negative impact on the quality of food?
Barbara: Neither, really—if you can’t cut it as a chef, you’ll lose your job. One thing some people don’t realize is that being a chef is very, very hard work. It takes a long time and a lot of cooking to gain celebrity status that lasts. If you don’t have the chops to back it up, you simply won’t make a career of it.
Marc: You must spend a lot of time eating meals that others have prepared. When you are at home, what do you enjoy cooking for yourself?
Barbara: Even though I’m very busy, when I don’t eat out, I make something every night. In LA I do a lot of main-course salads and things on the grill—things that I can prepare quickly. Even chopping a tomato and some onions or something, or doing some chicken on the grill, it takes me out of my day and helps clear my head. In NY, I tend to eat out a lot more, but when I’m in the apartment, again, I keep it simple: Soups if the weather is cold, salads if it’s not, and sandwiches—the bread in New York is so, so good everywhere. I make breakfast for dinner a lot there, too, because it’s a good excuse to eat another New York bagel.