The Daily Meal caught up with chef Levi Mezick to learn about how his travels have influenced his work. Mezick is the executive chef of Restaurant 1833 in Monterey, Calif. Mezick began working in kitchens at the age of 17 and has since worked with chef Daniel Boulud at Daniel and Café Boulud, as well as with Thomas Keller at Per Se. Mezick has also worked in European Michelin-starred kitchens and was chosen by the Pebble Beach Food & Wine founders to lead the kitchen of their new dining concept, Restaurant 1833 (a 2012 semifinalist for Best New Restaurant from the James Beard Foundation).
The Daily Meal: What has been your most inspirational food experience while traveling?
Levi Mezick: There was this small little place in Italy — I have no idea what it’s called. My wife and I just stumbled upon it while walking along the back streets of Sienna, but it was amazing. It was run by this family — the entire family was there and the food was incredible. I’m talking gnocchi stuffed with the freshest mozzarella. That sort of thing. The food itself was just incredible and I still think about it to this day.
TDM: What’s your favorite kitchen souvenir from your travels?
LM: I haven’t really brought actual souvenirs home from my travels, but having worked in lots of different kitchens around the world, I’ve been able to bring back various techniques. Those have translated the most and influenced my cooking style and approach. Way better than actual souvenirs.
TDM: If you could eat your way through one country, which one would it be and why?
LM: Spain or Japan. Japan because of the history, technique, completely different from anything I can eat in Monterey. Spain, same reason. Never been to either.