Ever wonder what kind of person would comb through a pile of textbooks to figure out how to make perfect ice cream at home? That would be Cook’s Illustrated Associate Editor Dan Souza, 29, who started his cooking career turning whole sides of beef into pots of guylas in Hungary. He is the reigning champion of the 2011 Rice Krispie Treat Competition (a seriously big accomplishment in the Kitchen.) We sat down with Dan and asked him some hard-hitting questions:
If you could be any ninja turtle, which one would you be?
Michelangelo. That’s the easiest question in the world.
What’s the most difficult recipe you’ve had to test?
Ice cream was really intensive because there’s so much science behind it. It shares a lot of characteristics with metals and material science in terms of crystallization — it’s really crazy stuff. I didn’t realize what I was getting into with it, but I ended up relying on a lot of commercial ice cream textbooks from the ’70s that had all the science in it. It was a bear, but it was a lot fun too.
You make a lot of gourmet recipes in the Test Kitchen, but what’s your favorite easy meal to make at home?
I eat a lot of rice, so I end up using the leftovers to make different kinds of fried rice. Kimchi fried rice, Pork fried rice…
What’s in your kitchen cabinet?
I recently came back from Vietnam, and I’m really into their food at the moment, so I have some really good fish sauce in there. I’ve also been really into Eastern Mediterranean flavors, so I have some spices, like sumac, aleppo and urfa.
What is your all-time, die-hard, favorite kitchen utensil?
Excluding knives, a bench scraper is the most convenient thing to have in your back pocket. You can pick stuff up with it, or split bread dough, or chop stuff up, or open bottles. It’s really useful.
What’s one thing you absolutely will not eat?
I don’t like fried blood very much. Yeah, it was a big thing in Hungary and I just wasn’t able to do it. I don’t mind blood sausage but fried blood doesn’t do it for me. I guess I try and avoid pineapple, because it kind of hurts my mouth.
Chris wears some pretty wacky costumes on the TV show. If you were on America’s Test Kitchen, what costume would you wear and why?
They don’t let me on the show anyway, so I would wear a CPK [Christopher Kimball] costume. I could sneak on set and be him for an episode. So that would be a bow-tie, suspenders and circular glasses.