Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Johnny Iuzzini – one of the top Pastry Chefs in the country – has been whipping up sweet treats for years, and I’ve been watching his career the whole time. So, imagine my excitement when I got the chance to catch up with the culinary heartthrob at the finish line of his motorcycle tour across the United States! Here’s the dish on baking, biking and beef jerky!
AM: I absolutely love your motorcycle! Tell me more about your bike tour and how you came about planning it.
JI: I grew up on motorcycles and they have always been a passion of mine. I always dreamt of riding around the world on a motorcycle and exploring different cultures and cuisines. This year I decided it was time to do it. I used my social media network to ask my friends and fans where I should be eating and visiting as I crossed the country. They really helped me to find great food destinations and select interesting routes. In the end I was on the motorcycle for 36 days and covered 7400 miles.
AM: How did you first get into motorcycles?
JI: I grew up in the Catskills with a lot of land. My dad got us our first mini bike when I was around 8 years old. We had trikes and quads, as well as dirt bikes. I always loved being outside and tearing up the dirt. Once I was old enough to drive, I saved some money and got my first street bike when I turned 18. Since then, I have always had a motorcycle.
AM: Which stop did you anticipate the most? What was your favorite spot in the end?
JI: I was really looking forward to seeing Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. I have traveled extensively around the world but it seems as an adult I really haven't seen a lot of my own country. So the trip was part sightseeing as a tourist, part exploring and searching for delicious food as a chef. In the end, I fell in love with so much of the country, especially Colorado – the roads, the people, the climate... I love it there.
AM: Everyone has a go-to road trip snack. What’s your must-pack?
JI: I grew up eating a lot of beef jerky. You see I wasn't allowed to have sugar, because I was too hyper – go figure – so my mom made homemade beef jerky for us. It's a great snack, has lots of protein and flavor, not to mention it holds up really well on the road. I also eat lots of nuts and dried fruits – love a good trail mix.
AM: You hosted Fashion’s Night Out this Fall at Macy’s Herald Square. Was this your first time at an FNO party? What did you think?
JI: It is such a wonderful event! I really enjoyed meeting lots of people from all walks of life. It’s funny when you find out you have a lot of common interests with someone you would presume to be completely opposite from you. Macy's is incredible because it has something for everyone. The products they carry are so diverse; there are so many options while at the same time, they’re of the highest quality – so you can't go wrong.
AM: It’s no secret that you’re the culinary scene’s current heartthrob – who did you bring as your date?
JI: Ha – I don't know about that, but I came alone! I am currently single and plan to stay that way for some time.
AM: Would you ever date someone who didn’t eat dessert?
JI: No – I think that is a deal breaker! They don't have to be a sugar fiend like me but not even trying sweets doesn’t make sense to me.
AM: Dessert for breakfast – is it a DO or a DON’T?
JI: Hmm – I love the mixture of salty and sweet so there is nothing wrong with a dessert-like breakfast. Pancakes and waffles tend to be pretty sweet. I like making my own brioche and then using it to make French toast. I cover one side with a crispy cereal like corn flakes and serve it with rum flambéed bananas and a soft poached egg. Lots of textures and flavors!
AM: When it comes to desserts, what’s “in style” now?
JI: I think more people realize that desserts don't have to be cloyingly sweet to be considered a great dessert. I actually like to ride that line between sweet and savory and use a lot of ingredients and vegetables from the savory kitchen in my desserts. I think you are seeing a trend in the size of desserts getting smaller, too.
AM: Sounds delicious. Have a great recipe you can share?
JI: Absolutely. This is one that we shared with guests at the FNO party and showcases savory items in desserts like I was just mentioning.
For more on Macy’s Culinary Council, visit macys.com/culinarycouncil