As a chef, I'm fascinated by flavor and ingredients. Developing the most delicious flavor out of something simple like corn, combining or twisting ingredients in ways that surprise, or using over-the-top items to create a perfect, unique experience for guests: that's what I love about cooking.

Balance is a big part of that. I'm always playing with the five tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami) to maximize the sensation and flavor we get in a dish, whether that's the welcome plate I would send out at Cyrus to stimulate the appetite and tease what would come, or the tang of acid in a simple ponzu sauce to compliment the umami in a perfect piece of chicken.

I hope that people will leave their fears behind when it comes to food. We don't have to like everything, but at least trying it opens us up and we might learn something. We might even really like it.

Cooking great food doesn't have to be scary. I respect chefs who have really mastered their skills and keep working to earn their stripes, something I'm always trying to do myself. But you can learn it and apply some key concepts to make really delicious, new food at home. I love to teach and share that with people.

In the end, we're here to do something good and appreciate life. To be compassionate and live a balanced life. That's why working with dogs speaks to me so much. I try to give a voice to these very loyal animals that don't have one, but they also help me stay grounded in what's important, no matter what life brings.

— Douglas Keane