From His Wisconsin Kitchen to Big City Restaurants

"I mean, you have to start at the grass roots, below, cooking, cleaning vegetables. And if I took 10 guys, 10 girls out of cooking school, brought them into the kitchen, [and if] I told them, 'Here's an artichoke, you clean it,' I bet you six or seven wouldn't know how to do it," he said.

Eventually, he said, they will do it enough to learn. And then will come a better understanding of their kitchens.

"I could be cutting vegetables with the guys and all of a sudden hear something behind me, and I know it's not right. I mean, I like to say I can hear fire and I can hear anything," he said. "When you're in the kitchen the sound of cooking is like music. That sounds weird, but it really is true. That's how in-tune I am with cooking."

Even a renowned chef has a few marginal items in his cupboard. When asked about his favorite junk food, White named potato chips, because "it's the crunching sound, it's salt ... As a young person I didn't have a lot of junk food. I liked to go to my friends' house when I was little to go get junk food."

White moved on to cheeseburgers and then his 11 p.m. special -- high-quality Italian tuna with oil, celery and Hellman's mayonnaise on whole wheat toast.

"That's what Michael White eats late at night," he said.

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