One thing you don't know about me is that my first paying job was working the fry station at Hardee's when I was 15.
If I could trade places with one chef it would be Cat Cora because she's great and her commitment to philanthropy is admirable. Plus, my father would be proud because she's Greek.
One of my most memorable meals was when I was eight and staying with my grandmother. She made me a simple breakfast of poached eggs on toast with grapefruit, orange juice and tea. She set the table with Wedgewood pale blue and white china, starched white linens and silver flatware, including a grapefruit knife and crystal juice glass. She talked me through each step and taught me the importance of paying attention to every detail in cooking, serving and presentation.
If there were no bread, I'd have no reason to live. I love, love, love good fresh-baked bread. One of the worst things that ever happened was when carbs got a bad reputation.
My go-to drink is Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. It's refreshing, has a citrus kick and is a great value.
If I were on death row my last meal would be the best burger, fries and shake. I just don't normally indulge that way.
My worst culinary creation was when I was just out of school and had moved to Nashville. I made a huge pot of corn chowder for a group of friends I was entertaining. Enthusiastic about my new Southern locale, I decided to add okra to the chowder, with absolutely no understanding of how to cook okra. I wound up with a huge pot of slime.
If I could change one thing about me it would be my feet. They've served me well throughout my restaurant career, my running hobby and my disdain for sensible shoes, but they certainly look like it.
My favorite junk food is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, alternated with potato chips, but only if it's late and I'm alone with a minibar.
If I wasn't a restaurant operator, I'd love to be a landscape designer. I love the creativity involved in combining new plant colors and textures with the existing natural environment. I would love the ability to work outdoors.
Niki Leondakis is the chief operating officer of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, based in San Francisco.