Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 1:05 p.m.
Chef Payton Curry was the talk of the town with his Christmas "reindeer menu."
After nearly a year and a half as executive chef at Tempe's Caffe Boa and Mesa's Caffe Boa Bistro, chef Payton Curry is leaving to launch his own restaurant.
"I want to do what Charleen Badman's doing, and what Pavle (Milic) is doing, and what Justin Beckett is doing," says Curry of the owners of FnB and Beckett's Table, respectively. "I'm excited to have my own little bistro, my own little osteria."
Curry gave notice on Friday (it was "amicable," he adds) and finishes the gig on Monday.
Now, he'll be busy searching for the ideal location for his fledgling concept, "right in the heart of Arcadia," and talking to potential business partners.
He'll also be a sort of culinary ronin, cooking at private parties and also doing "pop-up, rogue dinners" at various restaurants around town, where a few chef friends will allow him to use their kitchens on their nights off.
"I'm still gonna be at Devoured," Curry promises. (A year ago, Citizen Public House chef-owner Bernie Kantak made a similar solo appearance at the high-profile culinary festival, which takes place in March at the Phoenix Art Museum.)
And don't be surprised to see Curry at the Old Town Farmers Market, where he does Saturday morning cooking demonstrations with McClendon's Select.
Fresh from San Francisco hotspot Quince, Curry first made a splash in the Valley dining scene three years ago, when he launched one of the first SouthBridge restaurants, Digestif, with restaurateur Peter Kasperski. There, he established his reputation for clever, Mediterranean-inspired dishes and homemade everything, including pasta, salumi, and mozzarella.
He also formed friendships with local farmers, whose seasonal produce showed up in his frequently changing menus. (Credit him with introducing the Valley to the term "farm-to-table.")
Later, he teamed up with his wife Shantal Abdo Curry, herself a trained chef and front-of-the-house pro, on a downsized, short-lived version of Digestif in the former Sea Saw space. The restaurant closed when the couple joined the Caffe Boa team in late 2009; Shantal left Boa last fall and currently works at FnB.
Want to keep up with Curry's goings on? Follow @ChefP8n