Chef Danielle Leoni of The Breadfruit, Part Two
Although the restaurant's been open for several years, The Breadfruit stays true to its roots and original mission to offer fresh, Jamaican cuisine in a friendly, casual atmosphere. Leoni prides herself in the taking time to ensure every customer's experience is a great one despite the obvious difficulty in re-creating the food of a tropical island, here, in the middle of a desert.
"I think that people expect too much and here we certainly are in the business of managing people's expectations--not meeting them. You always leave happy and no matter what you order you'll have a good experience."
Also, find out what she'll be cooking up at the Winter Chef Series after the jump.
How do you manage to get what you need to make this cuisine when you're in Phoenix?
It's certainly a challenge. We have to take a lot of measures to import certain food items. Some things have to come from Jamaica and they'll get caught up on the boat, or at the port, or through customs.... Sometimes we just don't have them. And I don't mind. We never apologize. It's the same thing with seafood. We get it all from Jet Fresh and he brings it all in for us, flies it right in. So it's gorgeous seafood, but sometimes it's just not available.
But realistically, if you went seaside in Jamaica and you had your heart set on a grouper, it might not come out of the boat that day. It's alright. You might have red snapper or lionfish or another fish...that's just how it is. I think that people expect too much and here we certainly are in the business of managing people's expectations--not meeting them. You always leave happy and no matter what you order you'll have a good experience.
Interior of the Rum Bar inside The Breadfruit
How has the first year of Rum Bar been?
[It's been] really exciting. It turns out that Phoenix likes to drink rum! It turns out phoenix really like to drink actually. We have the courtyard in the back which doubles as our cigar lounge and we have a humidor from Churchill's and people will come in and do a flight of rum and have a couple cocktails and maybe go out and have cigar and have dinner. It's a whole experience.
It's cool because there's not anywhere that you can do this. The difference I think between what we do here and other places is that when you walk in I honestly believe it's very comfortable. It's very welcoming. We have this huge rum selection--we're the authority on rum in the state--and we make these wonderful craft cocktails and the ingredients are just amazing and we put so much thought and intention into what we do...but when you walk in it's just so humble and nonchalant and casual. Everybody comes in and is happy. Drop all kinds of ego and expectations at the door. You can just kind of relax and if you think about it, we are a Jamaican restaurant. You know what I mean? That's in our hearts.
What do you have planned for the Winter Chef Series at the Public Market?
For appetizer we're going to teach you how to make our Appleton Rum sea scallops, which includes Appleton Estate Rum and our homemade jerk rub. [We'll be learning] what a is scallop and how to find a scallop and how to handle a scallop and how to cook a scallop and what is a scallop supposed to taste like and when's it ready... So we're going to so through that journey with people and its actually quite simple. You're going to learn how to make amazing scallops.
Then I have oxtail from Double Check Ranch. It's a specialty in Jamaica. Usually you cook it on Sundays when you have time to make it because it's a very lengthy process. Then I'm making a West Indies polenta and we're mixing in all kinds of vegetables from Maya's Farm. Dessert, I'm making a Jamaican Chocolate Soufflé. It's made from Jamaican cocoa because cocoa grows all over the island and it's huge. All these wonderful ladies make cocoa balls, they'll take the cocoa and they grind it down and they form it into balls so you can grate it and use it for different things. So we're going to do that and make a rum whipped cream. We're trying to see if we can do rum pairing with it but that's kind of shelved. We're not sure...it'll more be sort of a surprise if it happens.
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