Wanderlusts, Vol. 15: Food Network Magazine’s Maile Carpenter

by Kassidy Silva

There aren’t many parts of the world where Maile Carpenter hasn’t grabbed a bite. We caught up with the food connoisseur and editor-in-chief of Food Network Magazine to find out her fave restos, where we will spot her and hubby, chef Wylie Dufresne, dining out abroad, what’s in their kitchen, and that time she ordered horse tartar….

What brought you into the culinary world?
It’s been food focused since the start. Even when I had jobs that weren’t in the industry I was always inching my way towards it. My dad was in the military so I grew up moving all over the place and I think that was part of it. Wherever we were, we were immersed in the cuisine. When we lived in Louisiana we were going out for dirty rice; then we moved to Germany, and we would eat our way through Europe. Exposure to all those different foods led to this.

You went to culinary school—how did it change your perspective on the industry?
I went there wondering if I would be interested in it enough to start thinking about kitchen work. I thought, I’m a journalist first and a food person second, but you never know. You might just completely fall in love and consider a career change—I did not. Also. I knew if I was going to write about food, specifically critiquing food, I wanted to know both sides of it.

What is the most exotic thing you can cook?
My husband, Wylie, is the one who does all the crazy stuff, and I keep it real. I’m the one making lasagna or pasta dishes and doing the crowd-pleaser type things!

What about your weeknight go-tos?
I’m not just saying this, but I cook out of our magazine all the time. Sometimes I wing it and develop things on my own, but I cook all sorts of pastas and we grill steak all the time. That’s our go-to on the weekend, with tons of different sides–farmer’s market kind of stuff. I think people, especially Wylie’s fans, would be shocked how simple our food is.

What’s the most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?
We went to Milan last summer and I ate raw horse meat. We went out for our first dinner and a chef recommended it. We were super excited; I would not order horse on a menu, but did it as a courtesy.

The verdict?
Honestly, I didn’t love the flavor of horse! [Laughs]

Any other memorable meals?
It’s a combination of time and place and what we’re eating. We had an amazing trip to Sydney years ago, and I felt like every single thing I ate there was incredible. I didn’t know what to expect. It just blew my mind. I’ve had more fun eating there than in any other city I have ever visited. Quay, Tetsuya, Marque (which sadly just closed), the Bentley…every single thing I ate and drank was amazing. I want to go back soon…it’s tough to get to the other side of the planet!

How about your favorite international restaurant?
I mean the ones that come to my mind first are these once in a lifetime restaurants like elBulli in Spain, Fat Duck in London, Noma in Copenhagen—those are life-changing experiences. We’ve been lucky to be able to eat in a lot of the restaurants on the World’s 50 Best List.

Maile Carpenter in Quebec

Can you dish on your favorite chefs?
You’re going to get me in trouble…I love them all! The truth is in terms of our eating out and loyalty to places, it’s hard. We try so many new places that it’s hard for us to be a regular. We have one little neighborhood diner that we like and my husband will never tell anyone what it is because he’s afraid if he talks about it a lot that it’ll get too crowded! That’s the thing about New York—when you live here you can get such incredible international food in seconds.

Where’s the last place you ate in NYC?
We had an incredible meal at Gabriel Kreuther.  The dining room is so beautiful, and the experience was a perfect combination of over-the-top, old-school service (purse trees, guéridons) and totally modern fine-dining. It’s the opposite of stuffy. I’m excited to go back and eat tarte flambé at the bar…it might be the single best bite of anything you can eat in this city. It’s just nuts.

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