Chef Volpi is a big fan of salads.
Chef Volpi is a big fan of salads.

Andrea Volpi of Local Bistro, Part Two

Yesterday, we spoke with Chef Andrea Volpi of Local Bistro about his gypsy ways and his life growing up in Italy. Today, the conversation continues...

First cooking job: I was a manager at a 14-top place in Chicago in '87. My job was to make espresso, cappuccino, slice of cake....

Favorite food: Oh, Japanese! I could eat California rolls all [day]...any kind of Japanese food I love it. Rice, some tuna. If I go out, you'll find me at a Japanese place.

Have you tried cooking Japanese food? No. I learn 20 years ago to leave to the painter the painting job, to the plumber the plumbing job. No mixing...

What's your favorite culinary destination? Italy or Spain, I don't know which one. I think Spain, because it has more variety and more spice. Italian food is good, but if you don't tweak it sometimes it's bland. Spanish cuisine has more flavor in it.

Chef Volpi's signature dish: Risotto with lemon and shrimp.
Chef Volpi's signature dish: Risotto with lemon and shrimp.

What's your opinion of frozen pasta: Oh, NO! For home, maybe if you're on the run. Sometimes you have to do canned. Like tomatoes are coming from Spain, Italy and you have to have them canned.

Have you had any kitchen disasters at Local Bistro? At the beginning, first night. [Owner German Osio explains that they offered a full menu on opening, instead of having a soft opening with six or seven dishes.] We tried to make everybody happy and didn't think about ourselves... When you open up a place you always try to make everything perfect. But you understand, you have to learn little by little.

How are you at desserts? I do tiramisu, panna cotta. Baking, like cakes, not very much. I tried some chocolate cakes today, they didn't come out very well. I'm trying! It's seldom you find a chef that does everything. Because it's very time consuming in baking. If I find someone who can do that for me, I'm very happy. 

Worst kitchen job: Butchering. I'm not a butcher guy. If I have to do it, I can, but I stay away from it. Maybe because I don't like meat.

Kitchen tool you can't live without: A wooden spoon. You can do everything with that.

Volpi puts his "clean food" philosophy into action at Local Bistro, 20581 N. Hayden Rd. in Scottsdale. "It brings back a lot of my family way to cook stuff, to be simple," he explains. "No fuss, no big plates. Just things that are nice & fresh." According to Volpi, the restaurant's name could be taken another way (Lo-CAL Bistro), as dishes like his lemon risotto with shrimp have fewer calories than Americanized versions heavy on cream and cheese.

Read more about Chef Volpi in part one of our interview and come back for his Bolognese recipe tomorrow. 

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