Joey Bruneau Executive Chef Nabers 825 N. 54th Street, Chandler www.nabersaz.com
He's been working in the kitchen for more than 15 years, but chef Joey Bruneau once considered pursuing a career in art. He even received a full scholarship to attend the Art Institute of Phoenix, where he would have studied design.
The idea of having a desk job didn't appeal to Bruneau, so he chose a career in the kitchen.
"So, I guess, food is my art now," Bruneau says.
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As executive chef at Nabers, a neighborhood restaurant, bar, and music venue in Chandler, Bruneau creates a menu of unpretentious but elevated American fare.
"This is just a non-traditional setting for me to express my art," he says.
But cooking hasn't always been a means of expression. The chef says his first job at age 15 was washing dishing Ziti's Pasta Bistro, an Italian restaurant once located near the intersection of McClintock and Warner roads. He chose the restaurant business because it was easy to break into.
Like many young kids, he moved up the kitchen ranks relatively quickly; Bruneau says he was promoted to prep cook after about a week when someone failed to show up for work.
From there, the chef went into concert catering, cooking food for large event venues in California, Arizona, and beyond. The travels helped him make connections in Las Vegas, and when a friend offered a job out there, the Arizona native moved West.
"It was good to just get out of Arizona and push myself out of my comfort zone," he says.
He worked at several restaurants in Vegas, including the fine dining restaurant at the top of the Stratosphere casino and hotel, but ended up back in Chandler after several years. Born and raised in this Valley suburb, Bruneau says he's happy to home.
"I grew up here," the chef says. "And I love our regional cuisine."
Five words to describe your style of cooking: Inspired, unique, artful, sexy, and bacon
What's your favorite item on the menu right now and why? The Bacon Bohemith Burger. Easy, because it's bacon!
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? "Skills can be taught. Character, you either have it, or you don't!"
Name one chef who's had the biggest influence on the way you cook: Personally, Robin Murphy. Celebrity Chef, Bobby Flay.
Two things you eat or drink daily: Bacon and beer
One thing you'd never find in your kitchen or pantry: Mushrooms. I really just do not care for them at all. I have tried, but I just do not like them!
Your culinary guilty pleasure: Pizza. Really good, hand-tossed pizza.
Your personal mantra: You can have results or excuses, not both!
Your earliest childhood food memory: Eating a whole large pizza by myself at a friend's birthday party at Golfland. That day I realized my true love for pizza.
One food-related book everyone should read: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, by Anthony Bourdain.
The best thing about living and cooking in Las Vegas was... lots and lots of free golf!!!
The worst thing about living and cooking in Las Vegas was...The Strip and its all night, every night craziness and traffic and people. It is really fun at first but after a while it loses it's luster and you just can't wait to get back to your quiet, calm neighborhood.
Three local restaurants you missed when you lived in Las Vegas: Amados, The Salt Cellar, and The Chuck Box
Your favorite place for cheap eats in the Valley: McGurkees Sandwich Shop in downtown Phoenix -- best sandwich shop in town!
Describe your most memorable meal to date: The first time I went to a really nice sushi place in Vegas. The presentation was out of this world!
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The ingredient I'm totally over is...curry. Probably just me, but I don't care to use it much any more.
I think the next big food trend will be...I think it is and will continue to be sliders, or tapas-style items. Smaller portions, as people are becoming more health conscious. Almost everything is fine, in moderation.