Ever wondered where your favorite chef likes to dine? Or what he craves to eat? Or what he thinks every Texan should have in his pantry at all times? We came up with a list of curious questions—quirky and practical—and e-mailed them to some of the state’s top chefs. And they spilled the beans. Read on to find out what’s on Shawn Cirkiel’s mind.

If you could spend only $10 on a meal, where would you go? Okay, $200?
$10—Gray’s Papaya, a New York City hot dog restaurant, and I’d still have money left over for dessert! $200—Urasawa, in Los Angeles, and it might not be enough.

What are you craving right now?
Fried egg sandwich and a Lone Star.

Don’t trust a skinny chef: fact or not?

Fill in the blank: Paula Deen is _____.
Smarter than she’s given credit for.

What should every Texan keep in his pantry at all times?
Beans and rice.

Who would you love to cook for?
My grandparents who are no longer alive.

What is your favorite outside-of-Texas food destination?
NYC, but I want to travel to Southeast Asia.

When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
I was always in the kitchen and realized I wanted to get better and do this for a living. From there, it just progressed.

What qualities do you most value in your cooks?
That they work hard and they care. Everything else will work it self out.

What food do you splurge on?
Anytime I’m out at dinner, I’m in it to win it.

What makes a dish perfect?

Which chef do you most admire?
Every one of us—we all work hard.

If you were a guest judge on Top Chef, what would your challenge be?
Either eggs, potatoes, or rice—the three hardest things to cook perfectly.

What’s one food you will never like or understand why people like it?
The only thing I don’t like eating is brains.

What’s the most specific order you’ve heard?
We have a woman that eats with us for a whole week and brings a full-page printout of her allergies. We then cook a different meal each night trying not to kill—and we haven’t yet.

What food do Texans crave more than anything else?
Probably beef, literally. But figuratively, Texans always crave a good time.