New York (CNN) — Chef and restaurateur Marc Forgione has been riding the wave of success since he won his first coveted Michelin star in 2010.
He now runs several restaurants across the United States, including his flagship rustic-chic dining space in the heart of Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood: "Restaurant Marc Forgione."
The New York Times has describe his food as "three times better than it needs to be" but although he's not afraid to experiment with unconventional dishes like roasted suckling pig face, he says food shouldn't be overcomplicated. "It's not something that you have to spend hours contemplating your soul before you put it in your mouth," he told CNN.
"Food is something that soothes your soul, it makes people happy."
Marc Forgione's suckling pig face.
His father, chef Larry Forgione, was an American culinary icon in the 70s and 80s, and Marc first worked in the kitchen of Larry's restaurant "An American Place," aged 16. He then studied hotel and restaurant management, before traveling to France to learn more about French cuisine.
While he worked hard to be where he is, Forgione says he wouldn't have got there without the help of those around him.
"Food is something that soothes your soul," says chef Marc Forgione. Photo courtesy Evan Sung.
"Any person that has been lucky enough in this world to taste just a little bit of success understands that you can't do it alone," he said.
Meet the 'gigantic dysfunctional family'
His staff -- whom he chooses not just for their experience, but most importantly their passion -- are part of the foundation to his restaurant's success.
"We all work together, with each other," he said.
"I will cut them off whenever they say [they] 'work for' [me]. We work with each other and that's from the guy that takes out the garbage in the morning to the guy that writes the menus at night."
He affectionately describes the whole crew as "one gigantic dysfunctional family" and says that mutual respect is essential. "If you start thinking you're cooler than the guy next to you, try to do it without him, see what happens," he said.
In 2010 Forge won television cooking contest "Iron Chef America," and since opening his eponymous restaurant, he's also established other eateries across the US. He's opened the steakhouse "American Cut" and "Lobster Press" for casual bites, as well as being a partner for "Khe-Yo," which is inspired by southeast Asian cuisine.
Those commitments mean he can't be at his flagship restaurant every day. So he relies heavily on sous chef Andy Knudson and sommelier Matthew Conway to keep it running smoothly.
"To have people like Andy and Matthew be able to hold down the fort while I'm gone is near and dear to my heart and it's the reason I'm able to sleep well at night," he said.
Knudson admitted Conway, Forgione and himself are "all very different people, (from) all different walks of life" but when they come together it works.
He says while there are times where "you want to kill each other, you don't sleep, you get upset," it's all worth it.
"He (Forgione) has a lot of trust in me to be here when he's not here and know (that) things are rolling the way they should be," Knudson said.
"I love what we do. I couldn't imagine doing anything else."