Chef Kwaku Boah, Lola
Kwaku Boah, 37, is chef de cuisine at Lola in Great Neck. He lives in Bayside, Queens.
What would people be surprised to hear you like to eat?
A hot dog with ketchup and mustard. You cannot go wrong with hot dogs.
If you could, which food would you ban from all restaurant menus?
Fresh garbanzo beans. They are a complete pain in the neck.
Which Long Island restaurant would you take a chef friend to?
Swallow in Huntington. Last time I was there I had a butternut squash soup with truffle foam, a wedge salad with lardons and blue cheese. It was awesome.
What's on your kitchen playlist?
The Cult, Phantogram, Drake, Ozzy Osbourne, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, The Doors, Stan Getz, The Pharcyde, Kings of Leon, 311, Bob Marley, Talking Heads, Interpol, The Knife, Amy Winehouse. And we'll end with Willie Hutch.
What's the new kale?
Cassava -- a.k.a. manioc or yucca. It's a root that they eat a lot of in Western Africa and Brazil. It's complete genius the way they dehydrate it and make this stuff called gari, which cooks up like couscous when you hydrate it.
How do you handle staff romances?
I don't. What you do outside of work is your business, and yours alone.
What's your worst kitchen nightmare?
Perfect nightmare: dirty kitchen, dirty walk-in refrigerator and unsanitary food storage.
What did your mother say about your becoming a chef?
She loved it. It meant she didn't have to cook anymore.
Who's your culinary hero?
Floyd Cardoz, Ty Kotz and everyone I worked with at Tabla (haute-Indian restaurant in Manhattan that closed in 2010). C.N.O. -- clean neat and organized. That was Ty's phrase. I still to this day do everything I was taught there. Everything.
What's your favorite cooking tool?
It's my bain marie. That's the stainless-steel container where I keep all my tools. It's like a magazine for all my bullets -- whisks, spoons, fish spat.
What makes a great customer?
People who don't think they know everything. They tend to be adventurous and can spot the nuances and really get a sense of what you're trying to do.
What seasonal ingredients get you going?
When we're approaching spring, I can hardly wait for fiddlehead ferns, spring garlic, ramps, artichokes, morels, asparagus, favas. Did I say ramps?
Other than where your restaurant is located, which town on LI has the best food?
Huntington, hands down.