For Patrick Boll of Spotted Donkey Cantina ii, a two-word response to any question simply will not suffice. We got all of the trivial stuff out of the way yesterday and today get into a more intuitive conversation with him about his future as well as that of downtown Phoenix.
In a new age where Google rules, there is an abundance of knowledge accessible to everyone at any point. Boll relishes the internet as a "chef's tool." When he told us he was a good student, but constantly bored with how unchallenging schoolwork was, we were totally not surprised. Read more and see for yourself.
Requiem for a chef dream: It's a buzz. It's almost like a drug - you can't get out of it. Most people that do get out of it go into some other food business, being a salesman or something. Look at Robert McGrath for instance. I worked with him for 15 years and he should have retired, but he didn't.
Something to call my own: I was going to be opening a restaurant in downtown Phoenix and the economy just tanked. At least I own the building, so I didn't lose any money, but I lost a lot of pride. I advertised that I was going to be doing a restaurant down there. It was going to be something kind of upscale centered on pork and other meats. We were going to have an outdoor kitchen with an outdoor wood-burning oven. We were going to bake fresh bread every morning and do a whole roasting pig. It was going to be very food and wine set where it would be $25 a person and everyone gets the same soup, salad, meat and dessert, but everyone would get to choose their own meat - same starch and veg for each platter, but it would change daily.
Find out what Boll thinks about some of Scottsdale Culinary Institute's new alums after the jump.
Charcuterie: I know some of it, but I would love to know more. I've dabbled in it - I've made salami and stuff like that. I would love to get more in depth, into the art of it. You have to go find someone who's doing it. Usually when you find someone, they're not doing it all. I don't think they even have any culinary classes out there where you could learn.
An iPad for your knife set: I've learned a lot on my own through dabbling and research. Of course the internet helps a lot. I mean, I grew up where computers were just starting. Really, I think the internet is the new chef's tool. I mean I use it a lot to research stuff and just to fill my head with knowledge when I have downtime.
Schoolwork sucks: I went to school to be an architect and do commercial art. When I was in college I hated doing all the work, all the hours, going through all the credits. Even through high school, I was a straight-A student, but I hated all the work. I think I was bored in school because I did so well - I wanted a challenge. And then when I got out of high school and into college, it was like 'here we go again.' I hated it. I wanted to get into a business quick.
SCI 411: I was one of the first students to go to Scottsdale Culinary Institute when they first moved from Indian School over to Camelback. That was back when the school was tiny - there were 12 kids in the class. Now there are between 40 and 50 in a class. There are things we got to do that kids don't get to now. We did charcuterie. We brought in whole pigs and we slaughtered them. These kids don't get that. One of the requirements to pass one of our classes was going to a slaughter house and watching the process from beginning to end. They did a lot more back then than they do now. Half the time they don't even get to cut meat because there are too many kids.
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Downtown Phoenix...give it 10 years: I love downtown Phoenix. I'd love to see it grow. When the economy was good everyone wanted to go down there. It's still growing now, but very, very slowly. We're the sixth largest city and yet we have the worst culinary mecca there is. It's hard. When anyone talks about food, they're talking about Scottsdale. The biggest challenge is the city of Phoenix - they've put a lot of restrictions on retrofitting. If you want to go into an old building and open a restaurant, they basically want you to tear the whole thing down - that's not how it works.
Pasta Bar: Totally misplaced. They were trying to do Scottsdale stuff downtown, which doesn't work. There is a different clientel down there. I'm surprised they lasted that long. I think downtown needed a pasta place. He had the right idea, but just put it out wrong. He tried to cook what he like and not what people wanted, and that's tough - you can't do that.
Be sure to come back tomorrow and nab the recipe for Dos Equis Battered Fish Tostadas.