April Bloomfield is one of only a handful of female chefs in the U.S. who has earned a coveted Michelin star, and she's done it not once but twice: for The Spotted Pig and The Breslin. She also oversees two other NYC eateries, The John Dory Oyster Bar and Salvation Taco, plus this month opened her first restaurant outside the city (Tosca, in San Francisco). Now, she has another new accolade: TV star. This Sunday begins Bloomfield’s eight-episode arc on “The Mind of a Chef,” a James Beard Award-winning public television series following chefs as they cook, travel and share their inspirations.
With five restaurants, you must be awfully busy as it is — why take on a TV show?
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I always wanted to do [TV] in a format that I really liked, and I’d been a fan of “Mind of a Chef” after watching their episodes with Dave Chang (Momofuku). I was pretty shocked when they said that they wanted me to be a part of it, but you know I immediately said yes.
How did you find the time to juggle the show and your restaurants?
I think chefs juggle a lot in general. I think that’s the nature of the job, whether they’re juggling a TV show or juggling stuff they’re cooking on the line. It is just one of those things that I fit in within my day or a weekend. I had a great time doing it.
What do you hope viewers will take away from your episodes?
I hope my passion comes through. I hope my enthusiasm for finding great produce; I suppose my sincerity. (Cookbook author) Marcella Hazan was an inspiration; I’d read her books many times and I got to film with her, which I’m gonna remember for the rest of my life and I hope that the sincerity of that comes through on TV. The dish that she introduced me to is the most delicious that I had ever eaten. To be able to work with her and just be in her presence and to learn from her was amazing.
What not-so-glamorous parts of your job will viewers get to see?
There’s an episode called “Restauranteur” so I’m sure there’s gonna be some ups and downs and emotional stuff there, especially with building out [Tosca]. I haven’t seen those episodes, so I don’t know what to expect, but I’m sure people will get a glimpse of me and what my passion is and why I do the things I do.
Do you want to sum up that mission statement of yours?
I think that’s the whole point of the show: I think it’s a great platform to see different chefs and how they use their minds or how they think about food. When [the production company] first asked me to do it I was kind of taken aback that they chose me, because I was like, “Oh, I’m not Dave Chang or Sean Brock,” and I think that’s the whole point: The whole point of the show is that everybody’s different.
Which restaurant do you spend the most time in?
I try and touch on them every day — just check in and do testing and tasting and all that stuff.
Your places have remained in high standing since they’ve been around. How do you stay consistent?
It takes a lot of hard work running a restaurant and it takes even more hard work to run various restaurants. It’s just a matter of trying to inspire and keep progressing — and tasting is really important and checking for consistency, motivating people to make delicious food and to make sure everything is tip-top and shipshape. If you want consistency in your restaurants you have to be present. It’s important to have other people in charge — I have some wonderful head chefs in each of my restaurants that have been working with me for many years, and they do a great job. If I didn’t have them then I couldn’t do what I do.
How did you decide on San Francisco for Tosca?
We were looking at a couple of places. We were thinking of London and San Francisco, and this one came up first so we decided to jump on it. It felt right.
So how do you feel about living a bi-coastal life?
[Laughs] Ask me that in six months.