Jeff Goldfarb cooked at the Marriott in downtown Chicago for 13 years. These days, he’s building his brand as “the world’s tallest chef!”
Are there any benefits to being really tall in the kitchen?
The main benefit to being tall in a kitchen in being able to reach things that are higher up. Otherwise, being a tall chef is not a good combination in a professional kitchen as it is not made to accommodate tall people. Trying to reach things that are very low is difficult: hoods, walks-in coolers and freezers are small and cramped for getting into. Standing for many hours a day. However, that being said, I have had a great career as a chef overcoming these obstacles in a world that does not tailor to tall people.
Besides your obvious height, what makes you exciting as a chef?
Being able to create something that can invoke food memories of ones childhood with my creations. The enjoyment of a fast paced adrenaline rushed kitchen. The experience of meeting and greeting people after you have cooked and cleaned the kitchen. You learn from guests how much they love your food.
What is unique to you about working at a hotel restaurant versus a regular one? Will you ever work at a hotel again?
Restaurant chefs and hotel chefs are like that cartoon, Spy Vs. Spy. One thinks they are better than the other. Working in a hotel restaurant you have a corporate structure with a larger staff and you have to create larger amounts of food. Regular restaurants focus on just their clients or guests in the restaurant. A hotel restaurant’s chef must focus on the restaurant, the buffet, room service, banquets. If something goes wrong at a hotels front desk check in with guests, perhaps a large convention was overbooked. Everyone in the hotel, including chefs must try to “kiss up” to those guests as they are probably not happy. Perhaps the housekeepers are behind schedule with cleaning hotel rooms, and guests are pissed, hotel chefs must work with other hotel departments to make guests happy. Being a chef now is for young people, and it’s all about politics. Will i ever work at a hotel, no, but I can still run circles around the young chefs. I just might end up in the ER afterwards.
What is the most popular fish amongst guests and your private clients?
The most popular fish dish is very simple, yet very flavorful. A whole oven roasted snapper or bass, cleaned, gutted and gills removed. Cooked with fresh herbs, white wine and olive oil.
Do you have a special technique for it?
Just a simple dish, using fresh fish and great ingredients, cooked to perfection, not overcooked or underdone and fillet table-side.
What are you doing with encouraging children to cook these days?
I have in the past taught children about healthy eating and try to emulate what I preach. I have a children’s illustrated cookbook that I wish to publish and encourage children to cook at home or even inspire them to become professional chefs.
How do you know for sure you’re the tallest chef in the world? What will happen if someone comes along who’s an inch taller?
I know the Canadian celebrity chef Michael Smith is 6 ft 7. He declared himself the world’s tallest chef. I wrote to him and he rescinded his position. I have a legal world record and trademark. So far no one has challenged my position as The World’s Tallest Chef. If someone come along and is a inch taller, they could not use my trademark.