Sonoma Chef Willie Cooper wrote the book on grilling


We have been publishing Marcel Roost’s Culinary Questionnaire for the past year with terrific response. And as we take a Holiday break, we are going to fine tune Marcel’s original questions.  If you would like to partake in the questionnaire please contact us or download the questionnaire. If you’re published we’ll send you a Roost Logo hat. They’re new for 2017 along with the new list of questions.  

We’ve been going through the past year’s questions and have chosen our three favorites. We will run them for the next three weeks, as always, on Monday, beginning today.


Chef Willie Cooper’s grill skills are so precisioned he literally wrote the book on it.  On the Grill: Adventures in Fire and Smoke, published by Williams-Sonoma is a veritable grilling Bible, built on Cooper’s experiences during his 20-plus year restaurant career. Now, Cooper’s culinary talent are available by appointment only, “private-cheffing” in Sonoma. Cooper reflects on molecular gastronomy and “keeping it real.”

ChefWillie_portraitWhat is your idea of a perfect meal?
A “fancy” tablescape with a casual multiple-course old-school French bistro menu – comfort food done right.

What recipe still gives you goosebumps?
Tuscan wild-boar ragu (my favorite “meaty” pasta sauce).

What cooking personality, living or dead do you most admire?
Jacques Pepin – he’s the man.

What’s a style of cooking foreign to you that you wish you had down pat?
British (with their Sunday Roasts, cakes and puddings).

Which ingredients do you find yourself using the most?
Eggs, butter, sugar, flour, chocolate, heavy cream – I’m a baker. On the savory side, fresh herbs, golden new potatoes, Swiss chard and spinach, tomatoes, lettuces, and red meat (hanger steak is my favorite). Organic chicken and wild game birds too, which I hunt myself.

What was your biggest culinary disaster?
I burn my toast sometimes, just like everybody else!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi. What food do you dream of?
I don’t dream of food – but I have dreamed of working on the line – which can be a nightmare, if you fall behind.

What’s your most treasured kitchen tool?
A little Opinel paring knife, from France – I can do anything with my little knife.

If you weren’t a chef, what other occupation could you see yourself excelling in?
Formula 1 race car driver.

Mario Batali has clogs. What’s your most marked characteristic?
Neckerchief bandana- always. And it doubles as a headband, when needed.

What food do you hold in the lowest of regards?
Overpriced molecular gastronomy in high-end fine-dining restaurants.

What is the quality you most like in a chef?
Honesty and authenticity. You have to be real. Faking it doesn’t work.

What is the quality you most like in a diner?
Proper table manners.

Chef Boyardee or Colonel Sanders?

Who or what inspires you?
Old-school French country cooking – fresh produce from the market to the kitchen to the table, everyday.

How do you take your coffee?
Two sugars and foamy whole milk.

What food trend drives you batty?
Kale is a super-food that’s good for you.

In-N-Out or Five Guys?

Could you “beat” Bobby Flay?

Do you prescribe to any kitchen superstitions?
“There’s no turning back the clock on disfiguring grease burns” (from a warning stickler on a restaurant deep fryer).

What’s a childhood dish you loved that still sticks with you?
Chocolate chip cookies.

Biggest cooking fear?

What do you cook on your off days?
Organic chicken breasts with rosemary from the garden and lemons from my tree

Go-to guilty pleasure food?
Chocolate ice cream.

If you ate some poorly prepared blowfish sashimi and passed, what person or thing would you like to come back as?
An Italian grandmother who makes hand–made fresh pasta for her family every Sunday.

What is your catchphrase?
“May I shave some black truffle on that for you?”

Marcel Roost is a hyper-intelligent rooster who could out-write and out-cook the best of them. His love for haute cuisine is only matched by his hatred of Kentucky Colonels. When he's not heckling fusion chefs, he can usually be found at some high-end bar "singing the body Martini." He's anything but corn fed, despite being—well—corn fed.

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