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David Walzog (Part 3 of 3)
His family may have put him on the path to a culinary future, but Chef Walzog had many great mentors along the way who helped him travel that path. "I had some really cool guys that I worked with coming up the ladder," he says. "One was Mark Miller. I opened Red Sage with him in 1990. Just spending time with him, his passion, you get to his intimate knowledge of ingredients. He's just awesome - a wild guy who can certainly take someone under his wing and give him the download. If you could plug into his brain, you'd probably pop your head with the amount of information you could pull out of him. So that was a great learning experience for me, to be around someone who has a crazy amount of passionate about food, dining and restaurants. Also, in terms of cooking I had a great experience with Alfred Portale at Gotham. I worked for him for about four and a half years. How smart he was in running the kitchen - it's not intelligence, it's just being smart - in dealing with young guys and coaxing the best out of them, building a menu, a restaurant, kitchen temperament or mentality that everyone can get into and understand and then rally around. That was a big learning experience for me. And not to become a really fantastic cook, although it did serve that purpose, that parleyed more into the mentality of becoming a chef."

Despite having cooked in some of America's best kitchens, Chef Walzog still enjoys cooking at home and eating at new restaurants. Sometimes he'll pick up some fun ingredients at Whole Foods or another market and use Sunday afternoon as a testing ground for new dishes. Other times he'll pack up the family and head out to a great Thai, Malaysian or even Korean barbeque restaurant.

Some of the best food he's eaten though was during a magnificent meal in Napa at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, when Jean-Louis Palladin was there.

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