Keith Staskiewicz
June 11, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Why did you want to write another nonfiction book?
It’s been 10 years since Kitchen Confidential and the food industry has changed. So it’s a sort of correctional reassessment for what I’ve seen in the decade since I wrote that book.

Have you changed too?
I don’t think I’ve changed fundamentally as a personality, who I am, but I think the bad-boy thing is getting a little old. It’s useful to remind people that I’m a dad now. I’m not going to be buried in a leather jacket. Immediately upon the birth of your child, it’s pretty much time to burn the Ramones shirt, and the earring’s gone. It ain’t dignified. No one wants to see their parents rock.

But you definitely don’t pull any punches in Medium Raw.
I have the luxury at this point in my career of having neither a reputation nor a restaurant to protect, so I’m free to…talk about the things that genuinely piss me off.

Like Food Network?
Just like there’s not much music on MTV, there aren’t many chefs on Food Network. For a period of time, the last thing they wanted, it seemed, was anyone who actually worked in a restaurant or cooked professionally or was authoritative on the subject of food.

Across the dial, on Travel Channel, you get to jet around the world, eat amazing food, and do a show about it. That’s a pretty awesome job.
I remember viscerally what real work is, so I’m well aware of how lucky I am. Who gets to do what I do? I have a good, good life.

One of the things you discuss in the book is the fact that you aren’t really a chef anymore. What job title would you use?
I have no idea.

You can use as many hyphens as you want.
Well, I hate the sound of ”TV host.” Writer? Maybe. How about ”ex-cook who tells stories”? I kind of like that one.

Read the full version of this interview on EW’s Shelf Life blog.

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