Our resident science guy, Dan Souza, has been hard at work launching the website for our newest brand, Cook’s Science (of which he, along with Molly Birnbaum, is the executive editor), and writing and editing the latest Cook’s Science cookbook (the follow-up to last year's New York Times bestseller The Science of Good Cooking). I caught up with Dan to discuss the first time he made fresh pasta, his love of seafood, and the responsibilities that come along with being an executive editor. (Editor's note: Since this article first ran, Dan was named the Editor in Chief of Cook's Illustrated, where he will continue to combine his cooking, editing, and science expertise to grow the brand's print and digital presence.)
Is there a moment you can pinpoint when you knew you were into food?
I remember I was making fresh pasta. (Editor's note: Dan has long since mastered fresh pasta—watch him make our groundbreaking recipe for fresh pasta without a machine.) I think it was a Jamie Oliver Naked Chef recipe or something, and I just thought it was awesome that I could make something that I didn’t realize you could make at home. I didn’t grow up with an Italian grandmother who could make all those things, so it was kind of eye opening for me. And I loved how special it could be. It was a very simple thing, came from simple ingredients, but you could turn it into something really, really interesting. It was terrible pasta the first time I made it—it was way too thick and it didn’t cook well. But it was one of those experiences where you’re like, “Oh, there’s more to it than I thought.”
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
I'm a big seafood person. It comes to me from both sides—my mom’s side of the family is from Maine, and my dad’s side is from Portugal, and so there are these two really strong seafood cultures that really influenced me a lot when I was younger. So if I’m cooking seafood, I’m happy. I love to grill whole fish or make ceviche, and I love to preserve a lot, so I make gravlax. Basically, if it comes from the ocean I love it.