Chef Chat: David Traina, Liberty Market

Chef David Traina in front of his big wood-burning pizza oven.
Chef David Traina in front of his big wood-burning pizza oven.
Heather Hoch

Chef David Traina seems very relaxed in his restaurant Liberty Market, which is surprising because the Gilbert hotspot opened just over a year ago. It's safe to say that his hospitable nature is the key to his success.

Traina runs Liberty Market with his wife Kiersten and his business partner Joe Johnston and his wife Cindy. It seems the husband and wife team have no issues mixing business with pleasure.

"I wouldn't be able to do what I do without my partner and wife," Traina said. "I always joke that she hasn't started to cook, but if she did, she would cook me out of the kitchen."

Traina says it is important to him to treat restaurant guests like he does the guests at his own home. He has formed two rules to running Liberty Market that keep him on track.

"First is the passion for good, quality food," he says. "Second is to serve with a servant's heart."

To Traina, this means ensuring the guest's experience is a good one, which anyone can see he takes to heart as he jumps from cooking to serving and chatting with restaurant patrons.

The passion for food runs deep in Traina, from his first job as a line cook at RoxSand in Phoenix to several seasonal jobs he took in New York. He says the experience in New York, where he grew up, really instilled that passion in him.

"The menu shares food we love, and food we love to cook," he says.

What's important to Traina when it comes to his menu is keeping it simple. As he sees it, nothing can beat the smell of garlic and olive oil or fresh herbs on top of a piping hot pizza. He says growing up in an Italian family and traveling taught him this love of ingredients.


Though opening and operating a restaurant has been an adventure for Traina, he admits that what he really wants to do is prepare the meals for guests.

"There's a lot of business things to do, and as a cook, I don't always get to cook as much as I'd like to," he said.

This doesn't seem to bother Traina that much though, as he can often be seen around the restaurant with a big smile on his face.


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