Justin Theroux says New York is the best city for good food
To say that I'm the creative genius behind this is a bit of a stretch," says Justin Theroux.
It's a Friday night at New York City's Le Turtle, and the actor, producer, director, and fan of leather jackets is adding another title to his resume: Chef. "Sous chef," he corrects. "I'm just gonna yell a lot and be really mean."
Theroux is here to help his former nightlife friend (and Le Turtle co-owner) Carlos Quirarte open Subturtle, a new private dining room located just downstairs in the Lower East Side bistro.
With Chef Victor Amarilla, the trio created a menu to celebrate the new venue and Justin's love of good food. Tonight, that menu includes quinoa carbonara, filet mignon with charred spring onions, and chocolate sorbet with milk crumbs.
Surrounded by friends, Theroux talked to Esquire about eating in New York, his favourite indulgences, and the worst meal he ever had.
He has learned his way around the kitchen
They're not giving me any complicated tasks to do. I sort of make recommendations—things I like to eat—then [Carlos] presents me with beautiful options, and I say, "that’s fantastic." It's great.
His earliest food memories all involve cereal
I used to save my allowance to buy sugar cereals. Sort of lame, but I remember being obsessed with Lucky Charms and Boo-Berry. When you get a little change in your pocket, the nice thing about New York is knowing that you can get almost any meal brought to you in about 20 to 40 minutes.
When it comes to going out, he keeps it simple
I like the old standbys. There's constantly places to check out, but I like the neighbourhood spots—Joe's Pizza, Corner Bistro—the places that are quintessential New York.
His favourite burger is a turkey burger
I like the Cozy Soup 'n' Burger turkey burger with onion rings. Well-done. It's one of my favourite things in the world. I don't think it's gonna get any Michelin stars, but in the wintertime especially, it's so good.
He will never say no to Joe's Pizza
It's my favourite thing to put in my mouth. It just tears me up for a couple days afterwards, but I can kill a whole pie, no problem.
Being adventurous has cost him
There's nothing I won't eat—I'll try anything once. But I had this meal in China that was literally a breathing fish. They brought it to the table and I just burst into tears. I was with this wonderful family that was gracious enough to take me to dinner, so there's no saying no in that situation, but man. And they sort of watered it throughout the meal, to keep it alive. It was, uh—my tastebuds just committed suicide that night.
His best advice? Make friends with a restaurant owner
Carlos is like the mayor of New York. He’s annoying to walk around with, because people constantly stop him and want to give him hugs. But having a friend who has some of the best restaurants in the city is never a bad idea. It's great to be back.