Table Talk with Rick Rodgers

This Thanksgiving expert shares his views on everyday cooking.

Who helped shape the way you think about food?
My family from Liechtenstein impressed me with the cooking from the old country and taught me the connection between culture and food.

Whom would you most like to have cook for you?
Mom, your lasagna and chocolate cream pie, please

Who was/is the most influential person in your life?
The owner of the delicatessen I worked at in high school, who convinced me that I had the “restaurant gene”

What does your kitchen lack that you dream of having?
A built-in double convection oven instead of the single freestanding microwave/convection unit that I use now

What’s your most indispensable tool, cookbook, or piece of equipment?
My full collection of the Time-Life “Foods of the World” series

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
My parents are coming for a visit, and their plane gets in late, so I have the fixings for a shrimp salad with lots of vegetables and a collection of low-fat dressings. And leftovers from testing recipes for this article

What are your top three pantry staples?
Anchovies, Parmesan cheese, and kalamata olives

What are your healthy eating strategies?
Everything in moderation―including moderation

What’s your favorite indulgence?
Homemade onion dip and potato chips

What’s your favorite restaurant?
Any one of Tom Douglas’s restaurants in Seattle. My favorite neighborhood restaurant is Le Zie (northern Italian cuisine) in Manhattan.

What food do you want to eat whenever you’re sick?
Take-out Chinese hot-and-sour soup

Having tried it once, what will you happily never eat again?
You can keep the innards (sweetbreads, liver, etc.) inside the animals, thanks. And squid-ink risotto