For Brian Feirstein, executive chef of Eddie V's Prime Seafood in Scottsdale, making an impact on the customers goes beyond the kitchen. The Arizona native makes it a point to get to know his customers on a first-name basis and crafts unique dishes based on dietary needs--more than what you'd expect from a chain restaurant chef.
"It's cooking, but the restaurant is more about the connection," Feirstein says.
The former pre-med student, who dropped out of University of Arizona to attend the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (formerly the Scottsdale Culinary Institute), has been at Eddie V's for 5 years. He says he's always loved cooking, and before he came to Eddie V's, he worked in Philadelphia at Italian and French restaurants.
He hopes to one day attain an upper-level management position or own a restaurant, but for now, he's excited to make customers happy both inside and outside the kitchen. He let us in on his philosophies as a chef.
What's your earliest memory with food? My earliest memory is watching Julia Child and cooking French onion soup when I was 5 or 6 years old.
What's your favorite type of cuisine? It depends on the situation. Anything new. I like a lot of the Asian food and culture. They treat things with respect. Japan is high on my list to travel to. Seafood is fun to work with because in Arizona, there's not a lot of seafood restaurants.
What's your least favorite food? American cheese.
What are the biggest mistakes cooks make? Over-cooking and over-seasoning.
What are your tips for at-home cooks? Get kosher salt or a coarse grain of sea salt so you can see how much you're throwing on the food. When you think something's overcooked, it's probably done.
What are your three favorite ingredients to purchase? A good bottle of olive oil, kosher salt and what's fresh.
What five words would describe you as a chef? Passionate, fair, enthusiastic, dedicated, hard-working.
Do you have any rules in your kitchen? Cut the tops off of boxes. If you take something out, put it back.
What stands out about the Valley's dining scene? It's definitley up-and-coming. It seems like there's a lot more chef-inspired cuisines.
What's lacking in the Valley's dining scene? People's willingness to try new things. People should be more open.
What's the weirdest request you've ever received? Butterflying a steak medium rare. People asking for things that aren't on the menu--someone asked me to make a manicotti, and we are a seafood restaurant.
How do your studies as a pre-med student affect you in the kitchen? Cooking is science, so if you have a decent understanding of science, you have a decent understanding of cooking.
What's your favorite dish your restaurant serves? Tuna tartare. It's got really good flavors and an interesting presentation.
Check back on Chow Bella tomorrow for a recipe of Eddie V's crab cakes.