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CHEF JAMES: What are your favorite cooking gadgets?
CHEF DAVID LAWRENCE: I'm not really big on gadgets. They create too much clutter in my kitchen. Just give me a good chef knife, a large cutting board and fresh ingredients. That's all I need.
CHEF JAMES: What do you think of the fact that Americans seem to be eating out more, yet cookbook sales are increasing?
CHEF DAVID LAWRENCE: Are they?! I find that people are all about nesting these days and entertaining at home. With the explosion of the Food Network and chefs becoming household names, people are more interested in cooking than ever. I'm excited to be a part of that.
CHEF JAMES: Do you have an amusing kitchen incident to share with us? Chef David Lawrence: I screen tested for a cooking show pilot that required me to make an appetizer from start to finish in no more than ten minutes without using any heat. It happened to be the middle of summer, one of the hottest days of the year, I was sweating like a pig and a nervous wreck! As the cameras started to roll I began to slice the mango, all the while trying to talk to the camera, be engaging and keep the segment moving along. Without realizing it, I nicked my finger and started bleeding all over the cutting board! The director yelled cut, my co-host shrieked, and I didn't get the job. The recipe I created (Brie, Mango and Mint Wraps with Lime Cream Dipping Sauce) is the one good thing that came from that experience.
CHEF JAMES: What are you enjoying most these days, TV, writing, or cooking?
CHEF DAVID LAWRENCE: All of it! I love all three mediums for different reasons. My first passions in life were cooking and acting, though not necessarily in that order. Cooking on television perfectly combines my love of cooking and my love of performing and writing allows me to express myself in a whole new way. I've never considered myself much of a writer. I just stick to what I know.
CHEF JAMES: Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself, your career, or the profession that would be interesting or helpful to others aspiring to enter and succeed in the culinary field?
CHEF DAVID LAWRENCE: Be curious. Try everything. Experiment. Travel. Read everything you can that's related to food. And most importantly believe in yourself. It sounds cheesy, but I'm proof that dreams come true. Getting Boy Eats World! published started with a cold call to Lake Isle Press in the summer of 2004. I had just finished writing the first draft of the manuscript, which at the time was nothing more than a compilation of family recipes I'd collected over the years. I'd recently read a newspaper article that said Lake Isle, the small New York publishing house, was the first to take a chance on a then unknown Rachael Ray when no one else would. The article went on to say that Rachael was an ambitious girl with not much more than a bunch of handwritten recipes and a dream, who'd gone on to tremendous and unprecedented success in the cookbook world. Inspired by her story and believing with all my heart that Rachael's success spoke to the possibility that it could happen for me too, I took a deep breath and decided to call Lake Isle Press. To this day I laugh at my naiveté. It never occurred to me that this wasn't how it was done! I remember thinking, “I have a book, I'll just call a publisher!”
I assumed that the woman who answered the phone that day was an assistant or a receptionist, so figuring I had nothing to lose, I boldly launched into my pitch. As it turns out, the woman I had been rambling on to about my unsolicited manuscript was Hiroko Kiiffner. The publisher! Had I known whom I was speaking to, I'm sure I would have been more than a bit tongue tied, assuming I'd found the courage to speak at all! I'd like to think she was charmed by my chutzpah. More likely she was curious about the guy on the other end of the line with the audacity to call and pitch a manuscript cold. Nonetheless, by the end of our chat she'd asked me to send her my manuscript. I did, immediately. But getting to the next step wasn't as easy as that. She didn't agree to publish me right away, but she continued to graciously take my phone calls. We quickly developed a friendship and she became a mentor I would frequently turn to for advice. It turns out I wasn't quite ready to be published. I had a lot of work to do to get there, but the advice Hiroko gave me was invaluable and her guidance set me well on my way. It took about a year, but with persistence, patience and a willingness to apply the lessons she taught me, I finally got the call I was hoping for. Lake Isle Press was going to publish Boy Eats World! It was truly one of the most exciting days of my life!