Words by Mr Yale Breslin
"I'm not a good cook," says Mr Todd Selby, sitting inside his apartment in Williamsburg, New York, as he flips through the vibrant matte pages of his second book, Edible Selby. "I like cooking but I'm not very talented in the kitchen. I see it like this: I like to eat the best things as simply prepared as possible. And that's it."
His passion for the culinary arts is highlighted in his second tome, a two-year labour of love that challenged Mr Selby creatively and took him on a world tour in search of those kitchens, gardens and restaurants belonging to today's greatest and most innovative figures in the world of cooking. "My first book, The Selby is in Your Place was about hanging out with people in their houses and it was very relaxed. This time around it was focused on going into people's places of work. I wouldn't say they were more standoffish, but they were definitely busier."
My nanny Olga would wear great T-shirts with felines all over them - in a Hallmark type of way. My brother recently pointed out that my style is on par with her's
His second collection of published works was the complete opposite of his first, in terms of the creative process behind it. "My first book kind of happened as an edit of the best of what I had already done. This book was totally commissioned for this project and it involved a lot of figuring things out as I went along. It forced me to rely heavily on my gut instinct. In that sense, it was very challenging as there weren't any constraints. I started off with a completely blank slate."
"I also love Japanese-Italian food. Do you know what that is?"
I do not.
"Basically it's Italian food in Japan; Japanese people making Italian food. I love these two cuisines and the fusion of them is incredible. Any time I'm in Japan you can always find me eating in an Italian spot. A little bit of sushi as well, but the majority is Italian."
I ask him about his style (he's currently donning a T-shirt with a somewhat eye-catching image of a cat) and the conversation suddenly turns to his upbringing. "Growing up, my nanny Olga was a very good cook. I have a few recipes in my book that were from her. Come to think of it, she might be my style inspiration as well," he says. Mr Selby's personal style choices include bold prints, loud colours and, last but by no mean least, cat images. "Olga would wear great T-shirts with felines all over them - in a Hallmark type of way," he goes on to explain. "My brother recently pointed out that my style is on par with Olga's."
Whether that's the case or not, Mr Selby knows he wants to continue producing work related to food, something that seems to excite him most these days. "My book is almost like my diary of all these amazing places I've been, the great people I've met and my favourite restaurants," he says. "It's very much an idea of what I've been up to over the past few years and I can't wait for people to have it in their hands."