Bradley Cooper, 40, stars in the haute-cuisine movie, Burnt, in which he stars as a tantrum-throwing chef (a la Gordon Ramsay) who’s newly sober and trying to earn a third Michelin star in his upscale London restaurant. The foodie drama sees Cooper team up with his American Sniper co-star Sienna Miller, with whom he shares an obvious chemistry. This afternoon in Los Angeles, Cooper has some fun with MiNDFOOD talking about one of life’s greatest pleasures, food.
APPARENTLY WHEN YOU WERE 8-YEARS OLD YOU COULDN’T DECIDE BETWEEN A CAREER AS AN ACTOR OR A CHEF. NOW WITH THIS MOVIE, BURNT, ARE YOU RE-THINKING YOUR CAREER CHOICE?
(laughs) Well, I wanted to be a lot of things. I wanted to be a Ninja, I wanted to be a cowboy, I wanted to be a soldier, and then I realised that I wanted to play all those things. But when it comes to food, I grew up where everything happened in the kitchen. My mother is Italian and I grew up with her side of the family so it was all about, ‘What are we going to eat, what have we just eaten? What will we put in the freezer to eat tomorrow?’ That was the centre of the conversation. So I love to cook and I’ve always loved to cook. I worked in restaurants until I was 15 as a bus boy and I was a prep cook at 18 at a seafood and Italian restaurant, so I have been on the other side of being berated by an executive chef and how a brigade works. That world is fascinating. But the world in this movie on that level, of going after three stars, that is like playing in the World Series. It’s just incredible. That I had no idea and I was completely blown away by.
WHAT DID YOU DISCOVER ABOUT THIS WORLD AND HOW MUCH CAN YOU UNDERSTAND AND RELATE TO THE FRENZY THAT IS BEHIND IT?
It’s a very educated audience who watches movies about chefs and kitchens and it started actually with a BBC Documentary called Boiling Point, where they followed a chef going after his third Michelin Star. It was Gordon Ramsay and then from that actually all these things were born. So, we knew that we would have a very intelligent audience and that we would have to be authentic. So with all the actors, there was a lot of pressure that we felt personally, trying to just not embarrass ourselves.
YOUR CHARACTER HAS SOMEWHAT OF A SHORT TEMPER. SO WHAT MAKES YOU SEE RED? WHEN DO YOU START SCREAMING?
I don’t really scream much but disrespect drives me crazy. That and wasting people’s time, and time is a really valuable thing. Those are two little sore spots I would say. And I think as I have gotten older, I am much more willing to fail. I don’t know if that’s a good thing but it feels like a good thing and it feels healthy. The one thing that I learned from working with real chefs, especially Marco Pierre White, is that when you are creating a dish, when you are indecisive that’s death. Whatever you do, however you compose it, that’s it. Don’t sit there and keep working at it and getting your hands all over it. And I kind of like that idea of just execute it, do it and move on.
IF I WENT INTO YOUR FRIDGE RIGHT NOW, WHAT KIND OF FOOD WOULD I FIND INSIDE?
My fridge right now has calamari in it and shrimp, some orange juice and some green juice and celery, (laughs)
IF YOU WERE TO PREPARE A DISH FOR YOURSELF WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE?
I would probably like to make something in the fridge, just because it’s going to go bad if I don’t make it tonight. (laughs) And that is the calamari. I will probably sauté it with some butter and shallots and with some shrimp, butterfly it and then put it over some tomatoes and make it simple.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT WHEN YOU ARE IN A RELATIONSHIP THAT YOUR OTHER HALF BE A GOOD COOK?
That’s interesting. Well I love to cook so I guess not that important. I hope they like to eat, because I love to eat too.
FAVOURITE COMFORT FOOD?
WHAT WAS THE LAST THING THAT YOU BURNED IN THE KITCHEN?
I burned some sirloin the other day for lunch. I over-cooked it because of the person I was cooking for, I love rare, everything rare and I really overdid it. Not happy. Wasn’t good.
THEY SAY THE WAY TO A MAN’S HEART IS THROUGH HIS STOMACH, SO WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT STATEMENT AND IF YOU WANTED TO IMPRESS A LADY, WOULD YOU DO IT THROUGH COOKING A GOOD MEAL?
I do believe that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach for sure, and yeah, absolutely that would probably be one way.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH THAT YOUR MUM COOKS FOR YOU?
My mum or my grandmother? Well, my grandmother made an amazing cheesecake, unbelievable, the best and she also made amazing homemade ravioli and Gavadeel and Pizza. My mother makes a great roast beef.
WHAT WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE MEAL YOU EVER ATE IN A RESTAURANT, WHERE, AND DID YOU REGRET SPENDING ON IT?
That’s a good question. I think it was probably Ramsay on Hospital Road and no, I didn’t regret it at all.
WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT? GOOD FOOD OR GOOD SEX?
It’s the same. Thank God, it’s the same. (laughs)