What are your favorite items on the menus?
I would say at The Normal my favorite item right now is probably actually the Green Bowl, which is our riff on acai puree. Basically we take fresh fruit - blueberries, acai puree berries that we bring in, a little bit of coconut water, honey, and cinnamon and then we puree that. And we do a little house-made flax seed granola and we put that over the top with some dried goji berries and shaved coconut. You know, really nice and healthy and clean. So that's actually what I probably eat the most here. And then if it was to tie anything else I'd say it'd probably be the hash that's on there. And unlike your usual shredded potato hash, we take Yukon potatoes, they're roasted and then it gets braised short rib -- cooked in guaijllo chile -- sauce. The short ribs, again, get like a one-day brine and then an eight hour braise process, and then nicely pulled. And there's rajas served with that, which is roasted poblano peppers, caramelize onions, a little but of bell pepper and the sauce is that guajillo chile sauce. And then you get eggs poached. So one day day its the green bowl for healthy and the next day its the hash to balance that out.
I would say next door it would probably be something like the ceviche that I showed you, the Hondurian ceviche. I just think that that take on ceviche, where generally people are thinking it's going to be almost like a cocktail of tomato sauce and spices, and taking something really refreshing again with the coconut, cilantro, serrano chile -- I love that. And then probably the arepas, which basically, it's almost like a griddled masa cake, if you will. So it has kind that texture of tamales by being firm and crispy and then we stuff em with wild mushrooms and then a little bit of queso fresco and it gets a roasted tomatillo sauce. And that, again, being a vegetarian dish, it blows me away how tasty it is. So those are probably my favorite right now but we have a couple more weeks and then the new winter menus come out so we'll see what inspires us then.
What are your favorite winter ingredients?
Well right now we're using, just even next door, we still got the tail end of pomegranates. We're playing around with some different butternut squash and acorn squash right now. I know we're kind of in the tail end of that - this is a weird time for us, when we hit this late in winter. And then things like rutabaga I think it's totally under utilized. I think most people are like, scared of turnips but my fridge is full of radishes right now. Either shaved raw or braised, they offer a lot of diversity.
What was the thing you missed the most about Phoenix?
I'd say there were two. One, was the outdoor activities that are available. I love hiking. I love being out there around the city and neighborhoods. I just really enjoy outdoor activities. And the second was I did miss the chef community and the food culture that we have here. You know, growing up and spending most of my working career here in the Valley I got close with a lot of these guys and girls throughout the Valley. So once I started in a new city, you kind of have to go through that again.. You know it's great when you're embraced and in the Midwest, it was amazing, I was actually embraced right away. But so many of these guys and girls I've just spent so many years in the kitchen together with I just did miss that.
What were the first three places you ate when you got back?
Southern Rail. Top of the Rock, over at the Buttes. Greg's a good friend of mine and I was excited to see all the progress they had. And then I did actually go to The Revival.
What was the best part about living in Kansas City?
Honestly, probably the best part about it was probably that Midwest vibe and just how friendly everybody was to somebody coming from outside the city and opening a new hotel and restaurant there. Honestly, the first week I was there people were like, "Hey have you been to the market yet? Ok, I'll come pick you up and take you." Just strangers. Just people who just totally embraced what we were doing and obviously, I'm pretty outgoing too. So that was great.