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Kevin Binkley Dishes on The French Laundry and His Badass Wife

Kevin Binkley paints a plate
Kevin Binkley paints a plate
Nikki Buchanan

Kevin Binkley Binkley's Restaurant 6920 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek 480-437-1072 www.binkleysrestaurant.com

Cafe Bink 36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree 480-488-9796 www.cafebink.com

This is part two of my interview with Kevin Binkley, chef-owner of Binkley's Restaurant and Café Bink. Read part one of the interview with chef Kevin Binkley.

What was your first cooking job: I started cooking when I was 14 at TCBY. I learned some very valuable things there -- how to make crepes and spin yogurt and most importantly, how to sweep and mop and do dishes.

Chef from whom you've learned the most:Patrick O'Connell from Inn at Little Washington. I learned everything from him. He truly opened my eyes. He took me under his wing and taught me everything about the front and back of the house as well as how to dine and know what good food is. He taught me that food should taste good first and be fun second. He's one of the smartest people I've ever known.

Didn't you meet Amy [your wife] at the Inn at Little Washington: Yeah, Amy was working the hardest station, which was sauté. She was badass. I was attracted to her in every way. I thought she was the coolest thing, and I still do. She's still badass.

Favorite local restaurant(s) other than your own: In no particular order... Rancho Pinot, Nobuo at Teeter House, Posh, Saint Francis, Petite Maison, Razz, F&B, Shinbay, Elements, and Mi Comida (formerly Mi Cocina Mi Pais).

I haven't heard anyone mention Razz in a while: Have you been to Razz's lately? I like Razz. I like to sit in front of him while he cooks. He's crazy. He's cool. He's old school and his food is good.

Favorite restaurants in other cities: Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain for combining avante garde technique, incredible service, atmosphere and delicious food;Le Bristol in Paris, France for its attention to detail; Atera in NYC for its avante-garde techniques; Narasawa in Tokyo, Japan. I went there with Nobuo, and it was just incredible, a combination of Japanese and French cuisines.

Coi in San Francisco, which is interesting because some people don't like it. It gets mixed reviews. My experience is, it's incredible. I sat down and started reading the menu and it was just a lot of stuff you don't expect to see.

Chef you'd like to meet and why: Not anyone, really. I just want to eat their food. Isn't that weird? Amy and I were at a famous restaurant in San Francisco and they figured out who we were and asked us if we'd like to go in the kitchen and meet the chef. We just rolled our eyes and said "sure." But they're not super-stars to me. Some of them are so cool and their hair is spiked. I just hate it.

Most important thing you learned at the Inn at Little Washington: It's about the entire experience. While the food is incredibly important, it doesn't shine as bright when all the other factors aren't up to par.

Most important thing you learned at The French Laundry: Don't be scared to experiment and change. Thomas [Keller] focuses on food without compromise. Patrick [O'Connell], on the other hand, focuses on the whole experience. Both are five-star restaurants but they sit at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Describe your philosophy about sourcing ingredients: Use the best, no exceptions. Fortunately, using the best usually means local, organic and sustainable. But I use local only if it's as good as or better than anything else I can get.

Your take on the Farm-to-Table movement: It's been happening forever at great restaurants; now we just have a term for it.

Do you consider yourself a molecular gastronomist: No. I consider myself someone who loves interesting, creative, and, most importantly, delicious food. With that comes what people call "molecular gastronomy."

What should be written on your tombstone: This man loved him some grub.

Check out the first part of this interview.

Enjoy this Chef Salad? Check out Nikki's previous interviews with: Lori Hashimoto of Hana Japanese Eatery Larry White, Jr. Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken & Waffles


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Related Locations

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Binkley's Restaurant

6920 E. Cave Creek Road
Cave Creek, AZ 85331

480-437-1072

www.binkleysrestaurant.com

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Cafe Bink

36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive
Carefree, AZ 85377

480-488-9796

www.cafebink.com

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Rancho Pinot

6208 N. Scottsdale Road
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

480-367-8030

www.ranchopinot.com

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Nobuo at Teeter House

622 E. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-254-0600

www.nobuofukuda.com

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St. Francis

111 E. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85012

602-200-8111

www.stfrancisaz.com

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Petite Maison - Closed

7216 E. Shoeman Lanene
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-991-6887

www.petitemaisonaz.com

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Razz's Restaurant & Bar

10315 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

480-905-1308

www.razzsrestaurant.com

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FnB Restaurant

7125 E. 5th Ave.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-284-4777

www.fnbrestaurant.com

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Elements

5700 E. McDonald Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

480-607-2300

www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com/food/food.php


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