The Sausage King shares how he learned to cook.
Credit: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Bruce Aidells arrives at his culinary expertise by way of aPh.D. in biology, which he earned at the University of Californiaat Santa Cruz. Ultimately, biological research couldn't competewith good food, and Aidells exchanged his lab coat for a chef'stoque at Poulet, a popular Berkeley, California, restaurant andcharcuterie. He has authored several cookbooks, including The Complete Meat Cookbook, Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book, and Bruce Aidells' Complete Book of Pork.

Who shaped the way you think about food?
In a way, my parents did in that I had a negative reaction tomy mother's cooking. But because I grew up in ethnically diverseLos Angeles and because my family always ate out on Sundays, I gota chance to taste many different cuisines. I also credit JuliaChild's TV show for teaching me lots of exciting new techniques anddishes.

Whom would you like to have cook for you?
Madhur Jaffrey, Nancy Oakes (my wife and chef/owner ofBoulevard Restaurant in San Francisco), Christopher Lee (formerhead chef of Chez Panisse), and Michael Wild (owner of Bay Wolf inOakland, California).

Who was the most influential person in your life?
My grandmother, a great natural cook who loved to feedpeople.

What do you wish you had in your kitchen?
Someone to clean up and do all of my prep. And an indoor firepit and spit roaster.

What's your most indispensable tool, cookbook, or piece ofequipment?
My industrial-powered meat grinder and my old butwell-seasoned cast-iron pans.

What is your favorite dish?
Indian curries, especially eggplant, cauliflower, orlamb.

What's your favorite indulgence?
Crispy pork skin from Chinese roast pig, Chinese roast duck,Italian sausage pizza, and warm berry pie with homemade icecream.

What's your favorite restaurant?
In San Francisco-Boulevard, Chez Panisse, and my neighborhoodPakistani curry-and-kabob house, called Kabana.

What food or food trend do you think is overrated?
Fusion, which is usually confusion; foams and gels.