Alex Young is the chef and managing partner of Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, hailed in 2009 as one of the “Top 10 New Barbecue Restaurants” by Bon Appétit. Young is one of the leading voices of the farm-to-table experience, having earned five James Beard nominations for “Best Chef in the Great Lakes Region”. It’s a title he won in 2011, the same year his famous macaroni and cheese was named the “Best Comfort Food in America” by Alton Brown’s Food Network show Best of. Young’s appreciation for the honest and hardworking American Midwest prompted him to open the 42-acre Cornman Farms in Dexter, Michigan.
Q&A Alex Young
Describe the Midwest: Honest and hardworking.
What is your favouriteingredient to cook with? Bay leaves.
What is your favourite regional dish? Traverse City cherry pie or fried lake perch.
What tasty bite should travellers to the Midwest not miss? Hand-harvested wild rice.
What inspires you about your region? Celebrating the rich agricultural history and being a part of revitalising the pride in that history—it is a wonderful opportunity.
What inspires you about your work? The opportunity to please people with food while learning about the people and the traditions of this country is very inspiring to me.
Who/What inspired you to become a chef? I love the gratitude and admiration I receive when I've served people great food.
How are you inspired by your environment and the seasonal foods in the US? I get really inspired by the foods coming from our farm (especially Tunis lamb).
How has American culture shaped the way you cook? I love thinking about the immigrants who have created our food traditions and celebrating them.
What international influences have inspired your cooking? Certainly Indian and Latin.