There's plenty of room in the limelight at Scottsdale's first dipping bar but you'll have to share it with a pretty big character: Executive Chef Lefty Karropoulos.
Chef Lefty, as he's known to most, isn't the reclusive, I'm-too-into-my-food-to-talk-to-you kind of chef you have to drag out of the kitchen. Most nights you'll find him roaming the floor at Limelight Dipping Bar and Grill, happily introducing himself to customers.
You could head down to meet himself yourself, but we thought we'd make it a little bit easier so we're bringing Lefty to you in this week's Chef Chat.
How did you become a chef?
I came to the United States to go to college so I was in college back in New York and New Jersey to become an engineer and coming from a family that couldn't afford to pay my tuition, I had to work three jobs. I actually never went to culinary school; I'm self-taught. I learned by working in the restaurant business. I worked for some very good chefs back East and I became an executive pastry chef first and then I became a chef.
Where are you from originally?
In Greece. Born and raised in Athens, Greece.
How did you end up here in Phoenix?
After I became a chef I moved to Las Vegas to work for the casinos. In fact I was working for Harrah's Entertainment--I didn't like Vegas at all so I decided to leave. On the way back to New York, I stopped here in Phoenix, and I just never left Phoenix.
How did you come up with the concept of a dipping bar?
Well, for a long time I've been going out in Scottsdale and I've had either places that are extremely expensive--so you go out and you're going to have very nice, fine quality entrée for 30...40...50 dollars--or you're going to pay $7.00 for a cheese steak. And I wanted to give the people something different. I wanted to create American comfort food, and what's better than pizza, burgers, wraps...and in fact we are going to add more comfort food to our menu. So I wanted to give them comfort food that's going to be fine quality but for price than anyone can afford. So that's what we have here. The difference between us and everybody else in Scottsdale is that you have either bars or restaurants. Here we tried to combine both. So you come here during the day or during dinnertime and you're going to have a nice dinner with a quiet relaxed atmosphere. Then you come Saturday night and we got a DJ, we got loud music--it turns into a club or a lounge, whatever you want to call it.
What was the inspiration for all the different sauces?
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The first, we started with 15 different dipping sauces and I developed them according to my liking--whatever I liked, whatever I enjoyed. Within the first month that we were here, I changed eight of them or nine of them. We actually print our menu everyday or if not everyday, every other day. And I change the sauces according to what the guests like or what they recommend. There's been guests in here that recommended, "Oh maybe you should have this sauce or that sauce," and I went and I put it on the menu.
Tomorrow we'll have the second half of our chat with Chef Lefty.