Q & A With Adam Gertler: Dog Haus Sausage Pimp
Vacation happens so few and far between that I'm happy to leave home and not have to make my bed. Striking up a conversation is second nature when I travel, and somewhere between a barefoot bar and dinner at Pappadeaux inside DFW, I hung out with new friend Adam Gertler. You may recognize him from Kid In a Candy Store, Will Work for Food or The Next Food Network Star. Cinephiles like me also know his humor from FX Movie Download.
So what is Adam's relevance to Orange County? Gertler's Wurst, his line of sausages, is being featured at Dog Haus restaurants. Once I noticed Santa Ana's spot was under construction, the reason to interview Adam was obvious. In a condensed version of On the Line, I grill him on anything and everything. Take it away, Gertler.
Let's talk about your collaboration with Dog Haus.
I was introduced to Dog Haus by a mutual acquaintance, someone who provided them with some recipes. I thought my wurst might be a good fit for them, since I like to pack as much flavor into a casing as legally allowed, and Dog Haus is all about over-the-top flavors.
What are your summer plans?
I'm enjoying all the summer blockbusters--X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla. All my fantasies are finally coming true as the 12-year-old me envisioned them.
Tell us about some of your favorite foods to eat.
Like so many food people who have had a chance to travel to Asia, I have since been obsessed with Southeast Asian food. I love ramen, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai and Malaysian. The spicier, the crazier, the better. Not so much into "fine dining" these days. I'm just after new and exciting flavors. I can travel to San Gabriel and have a new taste experience every time! I'll go to a place and have something like Hunanese ham, and I'm like, "This is Chinese food? It goes beyond beef with broccoli and chicken lo mein?"
Dog Haus also has some awesome burgers, as well as hot dogs and sausages. I am always down for a great cheeseburger. Plan Check is also great for burgers, and I will always give love to Langer's pastrami. It's just the best stuff on Earth, like Snapple.
It's great to see you on FX Movie Download. Describe it for people not familiar with the show.
FXMD is the reincarnation of the long-running DVD On TV. We show movies on Friday nights on FX, and go in-depth on those films. We do a lot of big blockbusters and some romantic comedies. Besides food, another passion of mine is comic books and comic-book movies. We get to do a lot of the Marvel films, which I love. Whenever possible, we'll have filmmakers on the show. We got to talk to James Hong recently, who plays Po's father in the Kung Fu Panda films -- and is legendary for playing Lo Pan in Big Trouble In Little China. I got to geek out with him.
We're doing Mr. and Mrs. Smith on an upcoming episode, and we got to talk to director Doug Liman as well as writer Simon Kinberg -- who also wrote the most recent X-Men movie (which, as I mentioned, I loved). Also coming up are Transformers: Dark of the Moon and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which I love because I get to dress up as Jacob.
Where did you grow up? How is it different from California, and what do you miss most?
I grew up on Long Island in New York, and it is indeed very different than California. With regard to food, Long Island, despite its closeness to New York City, is not very progressive. Bagels and pizza were pretty standard fare, which are great, but there's a whole world of food out there that I didn't even begin to know or appreciate until college.
I miss New York quite a lot. I loved living in the city after college. I have no attention span, and New York City can be a great place for that. Everything is so much at one's fingertips at any hour of the day.
In your free time, what are you up to?
I live in Hermosa Beach right now, and it being summer is kind of a hobby on its own. I play harmonica in a band called The Freedom Ledges. We have a show coming up in Pasadena on July 10 at the Old Towne Pub.
What did you learn from being on Food Network and/or reality television?
Well, that was my introduction to how TV is made. I've never been into reality-competition shows, and I think maybe that helped me a bit. It's partly the more family-oriented nature of Food Network, but I never had to be mean or back-stabbing to a fellow contestant on Food Network Star. I always felt in competition with myself and that the show was my "audition" to the world. I also learned that the best shows are original and have a strong point of view. I learned that for a show to break out, it needs to be fresh. Unfortunately, I don't know that either of the shows I did after Food Network Star qualified. I'm waiting for that one.
Your best recent food find:
The porchetta at Union restaurant in Pasadena. Chef Bruce Kalman is awesomely talented and committed to real, non-gimmicky, simply prepared food. He just knows great ingredients, and I hate him -- not really.
I know you love to cook. What advice do you have for home cooks?
Don't expect to make something well that requires any significant level of skill the first time. Anything I've made that I'm really proud of, I've probably messed up a few times. It's better to have and own your failures in the kitchen, so that you can own the successes and adapt. Don't be a slave to "recipes," but rather informed about technique.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Going to see Superman II in NYC with my family. I was very young, like 3 or 4. I'm probably fabricating most of the memories, but everything about it felt important. The importance of the theater, the poster, the smell of the city (think hot pretzels and charcoal, not garbage) and Superman. I mean, I still love all of those things -- and I'm 37 now.
Tell us something most people don't know about you.
I was a featured extra on an episode of Saturday Night Live. Josh Jackson was the host, and N'Sync was the musical guest. I was the best man in a wedding singer sketch with Will Ferrell and Horatio Sanz. That was my first brush with stardom.
Okay, any stories you'd like to share?
So many stories. Maybe I'll write a book someday. I live a fun life -- maybe too much fun sometimes. Traveling is the best thing to me. I've been lucky enough to work on some shows that I got to travel for, and you really pinch yourself while that's going on.
For example, my favorite thing to do is eat delicious food. My favorite place for that might be New Orleans. The fact that I taped shows for Food Network and Destination America in New Orleans just blows my mind to no end. I got to work on a show last year called Last Call Food Brawl on Destination America, and we traveled to NOLA on Mardi Gras. We shot a food competition there over the next few days. I simply didn't want that to end.