Dante Gonzales does not lack for energy. He has a popular food truck serving fried chicken in Los Angeles and a Web-based television show on his Web site, www.dantefriedchicken.com. And as of November he’ll have the charming, energetic cookbook Ride or Fry published by Sterling, a $19.95 paperback with recipes like Do or Die Bed-Stuy Shepherd’s Pie and the Warning: Tastes-Like-Chicken Tofu Nuggets, which caused an angry vegan to spit the tofu at Gonzales when he believed he’d been duped into eating poultry.
Can you describe your cooking philosophy briefly?
My cooking is a tribute to transatlantic African cuisine, which is an amalgamation of various European, African, and indigenous American food cultures. Most people identify it with terms like Caribbean, soul, Southern Cajun, Dominican, Creole foods, etc.
You write a lot about cooking when you were young. What one dish or recipe do you think every child in the United States should be taught to prepare?
Well, I don't think there is a specific dish a child should learn. I think it’s more important for them to learn a few basic cooking techniques, like boiling rice and pasta. Basic baking like cookies or biscuits—as well as making vinaigrettes and basic sautéing.
What’s next for you? Do you have another book in the works?
Right now, I’m working on the production of my Apricot Crack Sauce and operating the pop-up fried chicken taco stand in East Hollywood. With a nice, healthy dose of frying up for parties overseas. But I have many more books left in me, so stay tuned.