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Q & A

Ivan Orkin

IVAN RAMEN, New York City

Ivan Orkin is the chef/owner of Ivan Ramen in New York. He was born in Long Island, New York, Ivan Orkin studied Japanese at the University of Colorado Boulder and, after graduation, moved to teach English in Japan. He returned to New York a few years later ready for a change, and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1993 and externing under Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill. After working at Lutèce and as a corporate chef, Orkin returned to Japan with his wife and child, where, in 2007, he opened the first Ivan Ramen in Tokyo. Despite being a foreigner tackling one of the country’s favorite foods, Orkin quickly found success.

What is the first dish you remember cooking?

The first dish I remember cooking was a quiche. I was in 10th grade French class and I was failing. The teacher said if I brought a quiche to class for the year end party I would be awarded a D. I passed French and was on the road to a culinary career.

What prep to you hate to do? Love to do?

My worst prep job was zesting and supreming lemons. I always had at least several cuts on my fingers and it would burn like hell! These days I don’t get saddled with prep like I did in the old days, so when I do have prep to do it’s mostly fun. Getting mise en place set, sharp knives, clean station and some pumping Grateful Dead and a mug of coffee! Yeah!

Which food is your guilty pleasure?

Ice Cream is my guilty pleasure, although I’ve mostly given it up. Moderation is the word when you crest 50.

If you weren't a chef what occupation would you like to try and why?

If I wasn’t a chef (and in reality was a completely different person) I wish I could be a doctor. I’m fascinated by the human body which I think is the most magical thing! I also love helping people and this is the greatest way to impact people’s lives.

What or who inspires your culinary creativity and why?

Beautiful meat and produce get my culinary juices flowing. There’s nothing like seeing an ingredient that excites you and then getting to work.

"I am super excited about participating in Chef Fest! I look forward to being surrounded by chefs that I am friends with and who I admire.

I am excited to interact with guests in such an intimate atmosphere. And of course this will all be happening in Hawaii of which I am a huge fan.

For many years Hawaii was the perfect stop between Tokyo and New York and we made a point of going as often as possible. The chance to revel in all Hawaii has to offer has me fired up!"

A Tropical Escape

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