So what’s your show featuring this season?
I just finished filming season three in the Middle East.
What kind of Indian food have you tried?
From the kitchens of Amritsar, my Indian culinary journey has taken me to Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Calcutta, Kerala and Mumbai.
What Indian dish do you really dig and why?
There are way too many dishes. However, if I could order only one dish in a restaurant, it would be a vegetarian thali.
How do you rate the food scene in India?
For regional Indian cuisine, it’s off the charts! As far as diversity of international food goes, it will take time to develop.
What is your fondest food memory?
Chicken noodle soup when I was sick at home on a cold rainy San Francisco day.
The best meal you’ve ever eaten?
I’ve had fantastic meals. Among my favourites are oyster omelettes on the streets of Penang, chicken rice at a food stall in Singapore, Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) on a cold night in Hanoi and any street food in Syria.
Who did you learn to cook from?
My Chinese grandmom taught me Chinese food. My Egyptian grandmom taught me North African and Middle Eastern food. My father was skilled at roasting meat and bbq’ing. My mother was more experimental. My sister was a little too bossy, so I got to clean up the mess.
Has your stint on Wall Street and as a stand-up comedian helped you?
Let’s put it in perspective. I am a cook in a country where dog is a delicacy. Now you tell me!
What do you need to succeed as a chef?
You have to give people what they want, not what you think they want. You have to understand the market and their palate.
What’s the best part about hosting a food show?
Meeting wonderful people who smile and share their knowledge and passion.