What was it like growing up the son of Larry Forgione, who revolutionised American-style cooking in the 1970s and ’80s? “When I was growing up, my dad was just my dad. I didn’t have any idea he was changing American cuisine. I didn’t realise how big of a deal he was until I was 18 years old and getting into the business. Everyone knew my dad so I had to work harder than everyone else. It’s good because that helped me accomplish a lot at a young age.”

What was your childhood like? “I always enjoyed being in the kitchen, whether I knew I was going to be a chef or not. I made my own breakfast when I was about eight years old. In our family, for the holidays, everyone was in the kitchen, no one was watching TV. My grandfather was Italian and he always had an apron on whenever we went to his house. We grew up with food. To me that was normal.”

What was it like working for Laurent Tourondel? “It was tough. He’s a perfectionist, very French. What was cool about working for him is that he has an empire now, but I opened the first five restaurants with him about 12 years ago. To watch a restaurant group start from scratch was like going to school. Laurent taught me the importance of tasting everything and consistency. I also learned you have to hold people accountable – if the asparagus was underseasoned, the executive chef was in trouble, if the bar is dirty, it’s the general manager’s fault. That’s how I work to this day.”

New York chef on why she left a career in marketing to open a restaurant

You went to France for a year. What did you do there? “I worked at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant owned by Michel Guérard. Back in the day, all the famous French chefs either worked for [Paul] Bocuse, Guérard, [Joel] Robuchon or the Troisgros family. I read a magazine article about Les Prés d’Eugénie and it sounded like heaven – it’s in the middle of nowhere, they grow their own vegetables, you basically live on the premises. All you do is sleep, drink and work. You just worked, 7am to 11pm. Sometimes you would work a month straight, then get a day or two off. But you didn’t mind it – you just enjoyed what you were doing. It’s hard to explain but it’s like camp, where everyone does everything together. To actually live on the grounds where everything is produced, it’s different. We did every­thing from scratch.”

‘My body shook’: chef Nino di Costanzo on getting his first Michelin star

What was it like to be the youngest American chef to earn a Michelin star, at the age of 29? “At the time [2010], I was the youngest executive chef-owner of my own restaurant. I raised the money, I picked the chairs, I designed the restaurant, I built the kitchen. There were chefs younger than me who had Michelin stars but didn’t own the restaurant. I’m not an awards type guy; I’ve been blessed to receive awards and accolades but I take Monday night service just as seriously as getting a Michelin star. The year 2009 was tough – I had to do everything because I couldn’t afford that many staff, it was crazy. But it worked. It was very humbling. People who have never tasted humility have missed out on life. I never take anything for granted.”

Do you like doing reality television? “I don’t look at Iron Chef as a reality show per se, there’s no personality or drama or anything that’s fake. Iron Chef was just ingredients, chefs and cooking. If you look at the older shows, with [Hiroyuki] Sakai and [Masaharu] Morimoto, it’s just pure cooking with the camera on you. There’s no hiding or magic tricks – 60 minutes, make five dishes, don’t mess it up. You’re not trying to beat the other person, it’s just two people who are really good at their craft.”

How do you make a damn good steak? “It’s all in the seasoning. In general, you need to know how to season with salt and pepper – you’d be surprised how many people mess that up. It has to be a good cut of meat. I prefer dry-aged steaks.”

Why Hong Kong is perfect for chef Mario Carbone

Tell us about your exploding egg dessert. “Three years ago I was in a farm in North Carolina and I accidentally stepped on an egg. I’ve broken a million eggs in my life, but when I stepped on it, it made me think about life. Then, a few months later, I had a dream about making a dish that looked like an egg. In the restaurant, we don’t like to tell people what it is – in fact we just drop the egg on the plate. I like to try to surprise somebody at least once.”

What the best advice your father gave you? “Make sure you love it because if you don’t love the business you’re going to have a long, miserable life. Especially now, with the phone always being connected, there’s no real days off. It’s like being a doctor now. You’re always on call.”

Owner of Singapore’s two-Michelin-star Odette restaurant on why his grandmother would be proud of him

What do you do when you’re not working? “I hang out with my wife, and I play the guitar – I play acoustic, electric, ukulele. I’ve played for a long time, taking a few classes here and there. I play guitar 30 to 45 minutes every day, like meditation. In New York, it’s a crazy life so it’s good to take a moment to relax, get centred and give thanks. The big fancy things are nice, but sometimes we forget to give thanks for air, food, water and love.”