The tough thing about being a chef is: No one really understands the demands. That's why there is such a camaraderie among chefs.
I think your greatest talent lies in upscale cooking, but in recent years, you have veered toward casual. Other than a rocky economy, is there a reason for that? The economy is definitely a part, but so is geography. The fact is, I live in Phoenix (which I love) and I have to make a living here. There are a lot more people here that are more interested in eating omelets and cheese burgers than turbot and john dory. And that's fine by me. The goal of a chef is to feed people and have them love it. I love to cook at the high end, and I can throw down with the best of 'em. But it's much more rewarding to please normal people every day than a critic once a year.
The most fun I've ever had in the kitchen was when: I was cooking a dinner that someone purchased at a charity event along with Chris Gross, Matt Carter, James Porter and Beau MacMillan. Five courses, loads of Dom Perignon and four chefs betting on whether the souffles would turn out, which, somehow, they did.
Has your cooking changed over the years?: I think I've mellowed over the years and so has my cooking. I used to feel a need to over-complicate things, too many ingredients, too many techniques. Now I am comfortable letting simply prepared, great ingredients speak for themselves.