April 07, 2013
Pebble Beach 2013: Drew Barrymore on Italian Wines, Cooking Shows and Favorite Sushi Spots

Drew talked to Zagat.com at Pebble Beach Food & Wine Grand Tasting yesterday. She talks about her wine, favorite places to eat and more!

Towards the end of Saturday’s Grand Tasting at Pebble Beach Food & Wine, Drew Barrymore – actress, new mom and vinter – sat perched on the heavily guarded VIP stage while chefs cooked and clamored around her. By that point the place was practically sweltering, a combination of a warm afternoon, the grills and burners all working overtime and the crowd (it was a sold-out affair). To stay cool, she kept a glass of her Barrymore Pinot Grigio stocked with ice cubes. We asked if that was the preferred way to drink it. “In this hot tent it is,” she quickly noted.

Barrymore was at PBFW because of her wines, but also because she’s a huge foodie and fan of chefs, especially those she watches on cooking shows. In fact, she was a little bummed to see Brooke Williamson cooking a few feet away, only because she assumed that meant Williamson won Top Chef Seattle (she hasn’t seen the last episode yet…shhh…don’t tell her). Here’s what else the charmer – yes, she’s as nice as you think she is – had to say about her favorite chefs, restaurants, food cities and, yes, even little red restaurant guidebooks.

Zagat: Someone just told us that you keep all of your old Zagat guides.
Drew Barrymore: I do. I have a gigantic collection. I don’t know why I hold on to them I’m sure they don’t apply any more because restaurants have come and gone. But I love them.

Are any restaurants that you’ve loved that have gone?
Trader Vic’s. Not for the food, I don’t think I ever ate there, but definitely for the cocktails. Or just the environment. Or, I don’t know, whether it’s Perino’s, the Brown Derby, or Chasen’s, I love the old Hollywood places. Or, you know, Imperial Gardens. It’s now a Pink Taco.

Did you go to those places with your family?
I went there for functions, as a working kid. But I understood the cool part of those places. I got it.

What’s your favorite restaurant in LA right now?
I don’t really eat at fancy places, you know. I like, like Jitlada. Little Thai restaurants in a strip mall. They’re the best.

Where do you eat sushi?
Right now it’s Sushi Park. It’s really good. I’m super bummed to see how popular it’s getting. I mean, it’s great for them. But it was quiet for awhile, now they’re just like the top of the top. I’m so happy for them.

Any other favorite food cities?
In some ways it’s like Austin, Texas. With their sort of innovative food trucky yummy taco and a beer. But also New York, Manhattan, really overwhelms me in the best of ways. I was reading about a laksa that I could get down in the Village, and I thought I need to get there and try this laksa. Or a new oyster bar that popped up in Brooklyn. You know, there’s just so much. You just cant’ do it all in a lifetime. But I think Manhattan is the mecca for food.

I hear you were a judge on Knife Fight, Ilan Hall’s new cooking show. We were too!
Did you want to kill yourself for not picking the right person? I care about people’s feelings so much that I felt so bad for the person who lost. I watch food shows every day of my life, I don’t normally participate in them. I mean, judging feels awful. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. What I felt worse about it was that I was so quick to pick who I thought was the winner. I felt so bad that I was so brutal about it!

What are some of your other favorite shows?
The Next Iron Chef is my favorite. It’s the most elevated. But I also love Top Chef because it was kind of a game-changer.

Did you see that Brooke [Williamson] is right there?
You just ruined the last season for me, but yes.

We didn’t say anything! Just that she’s here.
I guess she must’ve won over Kristen. My husband and I walked in the tent and thought, “Fuck.” We have one episode to go! But I love both of them but it could’ve gone either way for us. We’re so excited it got down to those two. And if you want these food competitions, you will say to yourself that it’s time for a woman to win now. Because men have won it three years in a row now, and you need a woman winner in the arsenal. I couldn’t believe it was between Amanda [Freitag] and Alex [Guarnaschelli] on The Next Iron Chef. I’ve never seen Amanda cook better, too.

It’s amazing what these shows do for a chef’s does career. A lot of people consider chefs their rock stars, their celebrities. Are there any chefs you’re dying to meet?
Naomi Pameroy has become a dear friend of mine. She texted me this morning and I thought, I can’t believe I’m friends with her. Because I admire her work so much. And she’s such a badass. She knows how to butcher. She’s the first and only person to ever get me to eat goat cheese. I hate goat cheese. It’s my kryptonite. But she got me to eat a goat’s cheese soup.

What’s next for the Barrymore wines?
This wine took almost four years to come out. It will take time. But yes, I would love to curate more, whether it’s a rose from Provence or an Argentinian malbec.

So not just Italian?
I have to say, I’m very loyal to Italian wines because I drank them most of my life. I was a big Chianti girl. But your palate changes, your adventures change. I didn’t come out with a red because I didn’t want to be salt and pepper. I really felt that this was the wine that my heart was behind. And I really believed it. And it’s giving me a great freedom to choose differently along the way. I’ll see where life takes me.

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