Q&A with Daniel Young of young&foodish

Daniel Young, aka young&foodish, is a food writer-cum-pop-up extraordinaire. He’s taken burgers, spaghetti, pizza, coffee, sandwiches and fish, and turned them into a food-lover’s treasure hunt brought to Londoners by the city’s top chefs.

Daniel Young at his Burger Monday pop-up

Daniel Young entertains at a Burger Monday pop-up. Photo credit: Paul Winch-Furness

When are you happiest? The pleasure I get from food that someone else has cooked, either in a home or restaurant kitchen, is a function of expectations. If I expect something amazing and I get exactly that I’m delighted. But if I stumble upon something truly exceptional, magical and memorable that’s when my inner happiness meter goes haywire. In a delicious way

What is the best part of your job? Sharing my finds and my observations as well as the food and thoughts of chefs, bakers, food merchants and assorted food obsessives with people who live by a single principle: what is life but a place where we kill time between meals?

And the worst? No longer seeing my name and words in print. As the restaurant critic at the New York Daily News I was accustomed to having my articles published in that newspaper at least twice a week. I also wrote for major food and travel magazines and saw my books reviewed in newspapers throughout the USA. But since moving myself to the UK and my job to social media, with as its base, I don’t publish much and I don’t get much coverage in UK mainstream media. You can’t wrap fish in a web page, can you?

What is your greatest achievement? I’ve very proud of the eight books I’ve written, in particular Made in Marseille: Food and Flavors from France’s Mediterranean Seaport

What’s your favourite day of the week? Now it’s Monday. Because with my BurgerMonday series of pop-ups I’ve transformed the most dreaded day of the week into one a growing number of Londoners look forward to most. A good week starts with a great burger

Tell us one thing you can’t live without. I can’t live without coffee. Once I asked the late Ernesto Illy of illycaffe what he’d do if his doctor told him to give up coffee. He said he’s give up his doctor

Who is your hero? I tend to look up to figures from the cinema or musical worlds: Preston Sturges, Charlie Chaplin, Alexandre Dumas, Elizabeth David, Ernst Lubitsch, S. J. Perelman, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin. But it’s a fictional character created by Francois Truffaut that became my hero. Antoine Doinel made me want to be a flâneur – the urban explorer, the connoiseur of the city, the seeker of adventures in Paris, where I lived and worked for several years

You’re holding a fantasy dinner party – who’s coming? Preston Sturges, Dorothy Parker, Duke Ellington, Orson Welles, Simone de Beauvoir, Francois Truffaut, Albert Camus, Frank Sinatra, Gioachino Rossini, Vladimir Horowitz, Woody Allen, Greta Garbo, Billy Wilder, Charlie Chaplin, Eric Rohmer, A.J. Leibling, Robert Courtine, Bill Evans

Describe your perfect meal. Again as a sentimentalist I yearn for the past rather than fantasise about the future. So my perfect meal would be at the original Lundy’s seafood restaurant in Brooklyn, with buttermilk biscuits, Manhattan clam chowder, New England steamers, crunchy onion rings, fried shrimp (prawns) and scallots, lobster and blueberry pie on the table and my “extended” immediate family around it. By “extended” I mean my late father and late grandparents as well as the youngest Young – my son David – they never met

What would be your ultimate pop-up? A burger, spaghetti, pizza and pastrami cookoff with favourite chefs from UK, USA, France, Italy and Spain perform their magic on the floor of the Roman Pantheon

The meaning of food is… sharing

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