Bill Telepan is a very likable guy – there really isn’t a more accurate way to describe this dynamic restaurateur. He’s become nothing short of an upper west side fixture due to the fan favorite eight-year-old Telepan, a coveted neighborhood spot. In sitting down with him, we could see why his personality bodes so well with his customers as well as his staff. In this day and age he’s a special kind of chef. While so many chefs strive for food TV, judges status or a title that includes “top” “next” or “master,” Telepan has always wanted to be André Soltner, a restaurateur who was dedicated to running and perfecting one restaurant. In this, Telepan has surely gone above and beyond. Only now are we hearing rumors Of Telepan’s upcoming TriBeCa opening, an occasion we wait for with baited breath. We got the inside scoop from this icon on everything food…and a bit of music at that.
What would be your ideal food day?
I think I would wake up in the morning and have some eggs with some cheese, potatoes, a slice of bread and good strong coffee. And then probably for lunch something along the lines of – this is barring no calories right?
So somewhere between breakfast and lunch, a slice of pizza. And then lunch would be a burger and then afterwards would be a big steak. It depends on the time of year because I like to cook seasonally, so perfect tomatoes would be great. I’d like to just take a sliced tomato with some aged cheddar crumbled up and eat it like that. I think the perfect food day would be along those lines. Then I’d finish the night off with some good pork fried rice.
What would be your perfect drink with that day?
It depends what you’re eating. With the burger and pizza I’d like to have a good beer – I like some pale ales and some pilsners. And then with the steak it would be some red wine. Actually, if I didn’t do the fried rice after – if I did a taco to finish the day – it would be a good margarita.
How would you say your Hungarian background plays into your food?
I think the way I would describe new American cuisine is an American chef who takes all the influences of his life and applies them to his food. The Hungarian stuff is always in my head. I’m a guy from New Jersey – so from there that reminds me of fresh blueberries and tomatoes. I’ve worked in France with some great French chefs. I’ve lived in the northeast. I love Italian and the way Italians play with the seasons and their simplicity. And I’m Hungarian. Whenever I’m creating a dish, something will always be generated from that matrix, so it does play a part. The bellini with the smoked trout [at Telepan] would an example of Eastern European cooking. I do goulashes and paprikash, but sort of modernize them and make them lighter.