Steven "Chops" Smith Dishes on Chris Curtiss and Sends a Love Note to the Boys at Citizen
Chops at the bar
This is part two of my interview with Steven "Chops" Smith, executive chef at Searsucker. If you missed part one, where Smith dishes about the weirdest thing he ever ate and why he loves Japanese cuisine, read it here.
Favorite thing to eat growing up: Hot dogs.
Favorite thing to eat now: Chicago dogs and anything with foie gras.
What really turns you off when you're dining at a restaurant?: Dirty restrooms.
Tomahawk ribeye + cognac + horseradish
Name one of your favorite places to dine in Phoenix and explain why: Citizen Public House. I love Bernie, Richie and Andrew. Citizen is one of the best restaurants in town. They're running on all cylinders from food and drink to service. Not many places in town can achieve all three simultaneously.
Name a national/international chef you greatly admire and explain why: Thomas Keller. Who hasn't been moved by him in one way or another?
What people don't really know/understand about you is: I don't hate you, I just want it my way and I want it NOW!!!
Malarkey says he wants you to work WITH him, not FOR him, and that collaboration is crucial. How will Searsucker have your imprint over time?: Only time will tell.
What do you hope to achieve there?: To continue what Brian and his team have started and to breathe new life into the local dining scene on a large scale.
You've done fine dining and casual fine dining. What are the positives of each?: Fine dining taught me discipline, but casual is now the way of the world. Fine dining is dying, but I miss it.
Name a culinary mentor and explain what you learned from that person: SPEED in small spaces. Chris Curtiss taught me a lot about how to have fine dining savvy with a casual sensibility. He was a great culinary partner.
Tuna poke + charred jalapeño + candied tomato
What did you take away from working at Different Pointe of View?: Everything. Ivan taught us how to teach and learn at the same time. He really guided us to have discipline, but also to open our hearts, minds and souls. There is still food coming out today that we did years ago in our tastings. Every day we experimented.
In which kitchen have you had the most fun and why?: DPOV. We were all best friends out to "get" each other and out-do each other: friendly, brutal, violent competition. In a good way.
Pet peeve in the kitchen: Guys who don't give a shit.
Last meal on earth -- what would it be?: A whole roasted lobe of foie gras, a tomahawk rib eye with our demi-glace, a loaded baked potato, a Chicago dog, a guacamole taco, a bowl of pho and a glass of brown liquor.
What should be written on your head stone?: He had an unbridled lust for life (direct quote from my boy Dane).
Enjoy this Chef Salad? Check out Nikki's previous interviews with: Steven "Chops" Smith of Searsucker Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis Michael Rusconi of Rusconi's American Kitchen Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot Lynn Rossetto of The Splendid Table Cullen Campbell of Crudo DJ Monti Carlo Pete DeRuvo of Davanti Enoteca Chuck Wiley of Cafe ZuZu Justin Beckett of Beckett's Table Bryan Dooley of Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe Jeff Kraus of Crepe Bar Bernie Kantak of Citizen Public House James Porter of Petite Maison Johnny Chu of SoChu House Neo Asian + Martini Bar Stephen Jones of Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails Chris Gross of Christopher's Restaurant and Crush Lounge Chris Curtiss of NoRTH Arcadia Payton Curry of Brat Haus Mark Tarbell of Tarbell's Josh Hebert of Posh Kevin Binkley of Binkley's Restaurant Lori Hashimoto of Hana Japanese Eatery Larry White, Jr. Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken & Waffles
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