Tico Chef Michael Schlow Shares His Favorite Things

He has a serious mustard collection and secretly likes to make dinner out of a king-size Almond Joy bar.

Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Michael Schlow may be based in Boston, but the James Beard Award-winning chef has Washington ties that go beyond his newly opened South American-influenced restaurant, Tico. Schlow’s father was from DC, one of his most memorable meals was at Jean-Louis at the Watergate, and he’s looking to open another local spot (we’re keeping our fingers crossed for Italian, one of his areas of expertise). We caught up with the affable father of two, who talked about his love of Almond Joy, his mustard collection, and his trusty hangover cure.

Favorite fine-dining experience: “One was Jean-Louis at the Watergate. Three things stuck out: the foie gras course, who I was eating with (my sister and my best friend), and that it was the night Marion Barry got arrested.”

Snack: “Saint Agur cheese. In the dead of summer, a really ripe tomato with salt and pepper, a slice of Saint Agur, and some warm bread.”

Guilty pleasure: “I’ve been known to make dinner out of a king-size Almond Joy bar.”

Beer: “I don’t drink a ton of beer, but I’m loving DC Brau and Atlas Brew Works right now. In the summer, there are few things more refreshing than a Corona with lime, ice-cold.”

Cocktail: “I love a perfect Negroni. It’s sophisticated, interesting, and complex. And really good silver tequila blanco on the rocks with a splash of fresh grapefruit juice.”

Tequila: For super-high-end, Casa Dragones and Clase Azul are two of my favorites. If I’m just making a cocktail, Milagro Silver.”

Hangover cure: “I’m a sucker for cold Chinese food, a Coke, and then going back to bed. I don’t drink soda, but with a hangover I’ll have a Coke.”

Always in my fridge: “A serious mustard collection—it would be the envy of mustard lovers around the world. Almond milk. And there’s always pancetta, eggs, and cheese so I can make carbonara.”

Jarred tomato sauce: “The only jarred sauce I’ll eat is Mario Batali’s. It’s delicious. I hate him for it, but it’s delicious.”

Song to get amped to: “The first day at Tico, I cranked the music—it can go very loud—and played ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica.”

When I’m not in a chef’s coat . . . “I like nice clothes, since I wear a uniform all day. I like a Zegna suit, Theory shirts. I’ve been buying shoes from Cole Haan and its collaboration with Nike.”

VIP to cook for: “There seems to be a great connection between the music world and food world. For my birthday, Mike Mills from R.E.M. came down here. Billy Joel is playing at Fenway Park and we’re going to do a dinner together after. We’ve been friends for years.”

On my nightstand: “Elizabeth David’s An Omelette and a Glass of Wine.”

If I could have four people, living or dead, over for dinner . . . “Thomas Edison—he was a badass. Walter Cronkite. And Julia Child. I don’t want to throw Bono in there because he’ll hog the conversation. Let’s add the Edge from U2. He’s quieter but a beautiful man.”

What I’d make: “Everyone would get a stiff drink to start. I went to Julia Child’s house and she literally just gave us Scotch and Goldfish crackers. I’d make an Italian dinner—antipasti, salumi, a piece of leaky burrata. Rigatoni with broccoli rabe and sausage. A Florentine steak with lemon and grilled vegetables. For dessert, chocolate-chip cookies and Almond Joys.”

Herb: “Fresh thyme—it’s the most versatile.”

This article appears in the August 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.