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Food Network's Marc Murphy on his favorite dish (literally)

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At almost 200 square feet, Marc Murphy’s kitchen is suitably luxe. The noted chef and restaurateur lives in a tony co-op on Central Park. Along with its 16-foot-long pantry and separate dining room, the three-bedroom apartment comes with a private elevator landing, a sweeping gallery entrance, a library, and a master bedroom suite with a terrace overlooking the city, according to a previous listing for the home.

If you’re a fan of the Food Network, you’ve likely caught Murphy judging competitors on the hit show “Chopped.” He opened his first restaurant, Tribeca’s Landmarc, in 2004; his Benchmarc Restaurants empire has since expanded to three more eateries, and in November, People named Murphy the Sexiest Chef Alive. A self-described “part laidback surfer” and son of a diplomat, Murphy grew up in a string of global capitals, from Paris to Rome to Washington, D.C., before settling in New York. (One gem from his website’s list of 30 things you don’t know about him: “Prince Albert of Monaco was my babysitter in the late seventies.”) Despite his glamorous upbringing and glitzy apartment, the approachable Murphy points to a little dish from Italy when asked to name the most attention-grabbing item in his modern home:

It’s a ceramic piece from a region of Italy where they make all that sort of pottery with swirly edges and stuff. My wife [Pamela Schein Murphy, who co-owns Benchmarc] and I were traveling before we were married, and we bought this whole set of dishes. It was the same factory that makes the whole ornate, Deruta-looking pottery, but it was a modern-looking pattern. We bought a set of dishes, but most of them are broken. We don’t really use them anymore—this is the one piece we still use.

Murphy bought the ceramic dish while traveling through Italy

I always make a salt and pepper mix, about 20 percent pepper and kosher salt [and keep it in there]. It reminds me of our trip together, right after we met.

If people notice it, they’re like, ‘Oh there’s that salt and pepper thing.’ People see it all the time. We’ve moved three times since we had it, and it always comes with us. My wife loves to redecorate, but that’s the one thing that I get to keep! It was, I would say, a little over 12 years ago [that we we bought it]. So don’t go looking for one now, it’s probably not there anymore!

Interview has been edited and condensed.

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