Chef Todd English did a lot on his summer vacation. He opened an Olives outpost in Atlantis in the Bahamas and MXDC in Washington D.C. But he isn’t taking a break just yet — the Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker will head to this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival to cook at the Oyster Bash (noon to 3 p.m. October 20) — he says he’ll likely grill his mollusks — and debut the Global Night Market event (10 p.m. to 1 a.m. October 19). We caught up with English and got the lowdown on the Night Market, learned how guacamole is a life philosophy and found out what’s next for the busy chef.
What should guests expect at the Global Night Market?
We go all out. Guests should expect only the best. To start, the party is at the iconic Plaza Hotel, coupled with one of the best food and wine festivals in the country. We’re going to be offering such a wide variety of authentic, multi-ethnic options from our Food Hall stations and the non-profit Hot Bread Kitchen. We’re looking forward to bringing this great foodie festival to our home at The Plaza for a one-of-a-kind late-night dine-around.
What will be some must-try bites at the Global Night Market?
We are going to showcase our best Night Market dishes, such as our signature chicken Parmesan sliders, street tacos from our taqueria and our flatbread pizzas. We’ll definitely feature dumplings and noodles from the East and West, plus our notorious sushi is always a crowd-pleaser. Fall is one of my favorite seasons, so we’ll also be creating some seasonal dishes to celebrate the local harvest.
What excites you most about the NYCWFF?
There’s a real camaraderie among the chefs and a healthy competitive spirit at some of the events, too. It’s a great place to catch up with everyone and see a lot of friends from out of town. It’s a great way for NYC to showcase our amazing chefs and restaurants and see everyone come out to celebrate. It’s one big party.
Aside from the NYCWFF, you’ve been quite busy. What made you foray into Mexican food with MXDC?
I have always loved Mexican food, so when this opportunity was presented to me, I really liked the idea of it as well as going back to D.C. Someone said to me recently that if you don’t like guacamole, you don’t like life, and that about sums it up for me.
Tequila is a highlight at MXDC. What other favorites do you have on the menu?
We are doing some really great dishes there that I love. We have a ceviche menu with dishes like rockfish with cucumber, chile pequín, red onion and lime that is so refreshing. We also have different guacamoles that are out of this world. One of my favorites is lobster and corn guacamole with smoked chiles as well as a crab, grapefruit, serrano chiles and rosemary one that is fantastic. We also have a taco menu that customers are really loving with carne asada, duck carnitas, a mahi mahi fish taco and also one with langosta [“lobster”] and a smoky chile de árbol. I wanted to keep it fun, so we also have family-style dishes like pescado a la talla, where we take a whole fish and slowly roast it and serve with a chile de árbol aioli and peppery arugula, and a roasted pork shoulder with pickled red onion and green chiles. There’s something for everyone.
We heard that you will be opening a Todd English P.U.B. in Atlanta. How are those plans coming along?
Growing up in Atlanta, I’ve always wanted to have a homecoming restaurant there, but nothing is set in stone yet.
Any other projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?
Olives Abu Dhabi is slated for 2014 as well as Food Hall Manila. Food Trip [his PBS food travel series] is filming again and we’ll be shooting in Korea this fall. We have a few other projects in the works. Stay tuned.
Do you have any fall travel plans?
With restaurants in different parts of the world, I do spend a lot of time on a plane and running through airports. This fall, I am heading to Mexico — where I have an Olives restaurant — the Middle East, Korea and a lot of domestic travel as well. I love to experience local cultures and cuisines and really enjoy visiting markets and immersing myself in the local traditions when traveling.
Photo Courtesy of Todd English