100 Tastemakers in Phoenix

Jared Porter of The Clever Koi on The Importance of Humility and Family

From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.

83. Jared Porter of The Clever Koi

Native Arizonan Jared Porter began his culinary career at 15 when he enrolled in the East Valley Institute of Technology’s culinary arts program on a full scholarship. He went on to graduate from the Art Institute of Phoenix, then dove headfirst into the Arizona food scene by landing jobs at top Valley kitchens including Vincent’s on Camelback, Michael’s at the Citadel, La Grande Orange, and Olive & Ivy. It was at The Parlor Pizzeria, however, that Porter first stepped into the spotlight. He helped launch the Biltmore neighborhood staple, drawing attention for making everything from scratch, including the pizza dough and pastas. 

In 2013, Porter decided to branch out on his own, opening The Clever Koi in midtown Phoenix. Later this summer, Porter and partners Joshua James and Nicholas Campisano will open a second location in downtown Gilbert. The chef currently lives in Phoenix with his wife and daughter. 

Today, he dishes on his personal mantra and the five people he'd like to invite to dinner. 

My go-to place for coffee and breakfast are Lux and Fame because they are close to the restaurant and they do it right. Also Matt's Big Breakfast has always been a classic for me. And now they have a new location convenient for us on Sunday — Chop & Chick all day!

The best kept secret in Phoenix is Page Springs Cellars. Although it's not exactly Phoenix, it's a very short drive and well worth it. Even if you're not a wine person, the space that Eric and Gayle Glomski have created on Oak Creek is something from a postcard. I have had the opportunity to cook for them at the winery and on many occasions just hang out and enjoy the company over a glass. There's not many places like it. Great people, amazing product, inspiring space.

My personal mantra is "Only in the dictionary does success come before work." I feel like I've always lived that sadist professional life of a cook. Instead of talking like I know about it, I've just put in the work to be about it. One thing that can't be overlooked in all the intensity and work is humility. I think too often people get more focused on their own ego and less on being humble and considerate to the craft and community. I still commit to that mentality 20 years down the road because I've had to deal with my own ego in the past, learn hard lessons, and grow to be a better chef and person. Which in turn describes my work ethic. I love the laboriousness and challenging aspects of cooking and restaurants. It gets me hyped up, I love to bring that energy into the restaurant and filter it down to our staff and guests. I would say my work ethic can be described as intense, mentoring, cerebral, manic, and hopefully inspiring. So maybe I can retire one day...

If I could invite any five (make that six) people to dinner I would invite (in no particular order); Marco Pierre White, Johnny Cash, William Harley, Arthur Davidson, Robert De Niro, and General George S. Patton. I couldn't pick a dish to have, but I would hope it would be something that takes a long time to cook (whole pig, cacciatore, pot roast, etc), because I'm not trying to get up from that table any time soon.

When I'm not at work or at home you can usually find me ... If I'm not at work or at home, you should send a search party because those items are my priorities. My family and time with them are paramount.... If I don't have them, I have no momentum to do what I do in my business life. And I love my business and the work we do, so I'm a pretty peaceful guy: insatiable but peaceful. I think some may feel the need to have other outlets, but right now my focus is making our brand one of the best in the game, and my family is the cheering section that keeps me going.

The 2016 Tastemakers so far: 

100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour 
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant 
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo 
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew
86. Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet
85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails 
84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion
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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria