Area 31's John Critchley Gets The 10...

Executive chef John Critchley of Area 31 at Epic seems to be a man of few words--as is evidenced by his interview below--but perhaps that's because his focus is more on action, nowadays. 

As a matter of fact, on November 20, he'll present a donation check to the Marine Mammal Conservancy in Key Largo reflecting profits from his restaurant's pre-fixe menu featuring locally caught, sustainable seafood. (Did you know the restaurant was named for Fishing Area 31, a region of the Western Central Atlantic comprising the entire Florida coast, Central America, and northern South America? Yup. All fishies in there are short-line caught.)

Critchley hails from Massachusetts on Cape Cod Bay, so it's pretty safe to say the man knows his way around seafood. He also graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, worked in Boston as a sous chef in Clio/Oringer's Uni Sashimi Bar, and ran Toro, a Boston tapas bar. Just before joining Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants (Epic's operating company), he labored at Island Creek Oysters helping to harvest and grow the bivalves. 

Thankfully, he didn't clam up entirely when we hit him with The 10. [Get it? Clam up?!? Har!] Anyway, here's what he had to say:

New Times: What was your best or worst dining experience? 

John Critchley: Went to a "celebrity chef" dining spot in San Francisco by myself after a long day of crunching numbers. After placing my order, I waited about 30 minutes, then a bus boy dropped my check... However, never did I get my food or drink. Turns out the server was "cut" due to lack of business. I guess we can see why.

NT: Which famous chef, alive or dead, would you like to shadow for a day (assuming you haven't already had the chance)?  

NT: What is your dream culinary trip? 

JC: Tsukiji, with an unlimited budget and no potential for weight gain.

NT: How many fellow cooks, servers, bartenders, etc. do you estimate you've hooked up with in your lifetime?  

JC: Two. I am mostly attracted to women that have nothing to do with the industry.

NT: Why do you think restaurants are hotbeds for sexual activity/relationships? 

JC: Apparently I missed that boat by focusing on what I was doing, not who I was doing.

NT: What food/utensil/technique still confounds you?  

JC: That thing you roll the garlic cloves in to remove the peel. Do you really need that?

NT: Which chef, alive or dead, would you like to challenge in Iron Chef fashion? Why do you believe you could kick his or her ass in the kitchen? 

JC: Chef Masaharu Morimoto, but I wouldn't be able kick his ass.

NT: What's your favorite food-/cooking-related joke?

JC: Did you remember to set a timer?

NT: What's your favorite soundtrack/song to cook to?  

JC: Silence. No radios in my kitchen.

NT: If you weren't a chef, what would you be?

JC: Surfing and selling coconuts.

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Riki Altman