Chef Chat: Greg LaPrad of Quiessence


The daily menu is not a new concept by any means -- LaPrad thanks his younger kitchen experiences in Italy for the inspiration -- but the challenge fit nicely with the restaurant's location on the Farm at South Mountain. The chef just has to walk outside every morning to look for the day's ingredients.

But relying on what's in season isn't always easy, especially in the desert. 

"

Summer gets tough here. And toward the end of the season I start to anticipate the next season's ingredients and get tired of what I'm using. Trying to come up with new stuff every day is a bit of a challenge, but it's also what I absolutely love about my job."  


This summer poses a whole new set of challenges. In July, LaPrad will be a guest chef at the James Beard House in Manhattan. 


LaPrad will bring his cooking crew, including chef de cuisine Anthony Andiario to New York, along with the ingredients. "I hope our hotel fridges are huge," says LaPrad. "Our whole menu for the event is made with local, seasonal Arizona food and we're going to have a ton." 


But before he jet sets, the chef sat down with us to dish on his lunchbox, culinary confession and view on social media. 


Culinary Confession: When I go anywhere to eat, it's really tough to not be critical about what that restaurants are doing: the service, the seasoning, the preparation. I wish I could kind of undo that as a person in the industry. Sometimes I find myself getting trapped in being so critical that I can't just sit down and enjoy what I'm eating.

Phoenix Needs: More sincere restaurants that are food driven. I see a lot of restaurants here that are concept driven from the branding, to the name, to the look of the restaurant. Phoenix restaurants are all about flash and style, the scene and the vibe. I think the scene needs to be more about what's on the plate.

Quiessence Style: What's on the menu is 100 percent based on what's in season, which at times is very limiting and challenging.But it's part of what we do. We absolutely celebrate what's in season. 

In Your Lunch Box Growing Up: I never packed my own lunch, actually, I would usually eat the school lunch. But I didn't mind. I've never been snobby about food.

On Social Media: I don't really participate in it. It's cool that chefs can connect with people on the other end, but it's never been my style. I really think a restaurant should speak for itself and the dining experience, to me, is about the food and your dining companion.

(This was part one of our Chef Chat with Greg LaPrad of Quiessence. Check out part two tomorrow and stay tuned for a recipe on Thursday.)

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