literary food blog, for readers with good taste.

At The Table With...Eataly's Chef Alex Pilas [+ Giveaway!]

An interview with Eataly's Chef Alex Pilas

Today we're ordering up with Chef Alex Pilas, longtime executive chef at Eataly. Chef Alex's background is interesting: He was born in South Korea, then adopted and raised in a household with Greek, Italian and Polish influences. Those heritages instilled in him a love for Mediterranean food, pasta in particular. Chef Alex is a lover of good food and good books — just the type of person I love to learn more about.

What is your all-time favorite book, and why?

Silas Marner by George Eliot. It's a story of love, hope and redemption.

What meal do you love to cook, and why?

Foods that remind me of my childhood:

Simple roasted chicken, I love the smells and always makes the house feel warm. Pasta, I love the versatility of it and it is always comforting. Leg of lamb, it always reminds of my grandmother, who made it every Sunday.

What is your favorite food scene from a book, and why?

In Jane M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear, all the foods that Ayla cooked were either foraged, hunted or fished. It's the ultimate field guide.

Coffee or tea?

I drink tea. It's therapeutic, diuretic and if made properly does not have tannins like coffee. My favorites are Korean barley, green and Earl Grey.

What is the last book you abandoned, and why?

Haruki Murakami's 1Q84, but I didn’t really abandon it. I was reading others at the same time.

Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?

Waverly Root. I'd eat whatever he suggested.

Where do you go to find new recipes? 

Photos and reading other menus. You don’t know what they taste like, but using the taste memories of ingredients, you come up with dishes that work or they don’t. That’s recipe testing.

Where do you go to find new reads?

Sunday New York Times book section

Tell us about your approach to cooking — the inspiration for it, why you became a chef and your favorite aspects of your job.

I became a chef because I love the controlled chaos in a kitchen. I look at food like a farmer, to be as seasonal and simple as possible, to not distract from the ingredients — which is why I love Italian cuisine.

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This hefty cookbook is intended to be a guide for eating and enjoying Italian food. Based on the company's belief that "the more you know, the more you will enjoy," How To Eataly seeks to use knowledge to enhance the experience of producing and consuming that region's cuisine. Writes one reviewer: 

That’s what this book offers, the impetus to use the very best ingredients (preferably those that are meticulously created and selectively imported at Eataly) and the tricks that grandmothers know to get the best flavor out of them.

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win the book. Entries are open to readers in the U.S. The more ways you enter, the better your chances of winning! Winner will be selected at random and contacted by email.

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"A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" by Anthony Marra & Beef Manti (Dumplings)