Chef News

Chef Chat: Joshua Riesner, Atlas Bistro

Cooking is all about the rock 'n roll lifestyle for chef Joshua Riesner. He stays up late, wakes up at noon and sometimes gets to enjoy a drink before Atlas Bistro opens.  His menu is based on whatever he has in stock for the day, and he enjoys the freedom to make a different delicacy each day. Plus, he says he gets paid to drink wine.
"Sometimes I show up to work drunk," Riesner says, joking (or at least we think he's joking).

Riesner says he began working at restaurants when he was about 10, helping out in the kitchen where his mother bartended.

"It was free babysitting and I got all the Dr. Pepper I could drink," he says.

At 16, Riesner worked at a diner in his hometown of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, where he would open up and cook breakfast, skipping his first two classes in high school. From there, he worked at Waterplace Park in Providence, Rhode Island, a two-level restaurant with an old-school fish house downstairs, and a fine dining restaurant above it.

"That place was rad," he says. "I don't know why they let me work in fine dining. I had no experience."

Riesner took advantage of all Providence had to offer, from its punk scene to the tattoo shops. (He says he is most proud of his banana tattoo.) However, a move to Boston got him started in the hotel industry, which eventually influenced his move to Phoenix.

After working at the Meridian Hotel in Boston, Riesner took his cooking on tour, driving a "beat-up U-haul" cross country to Los Angeles. He worked at a company there which sent him to Las Vegas, but he said the corporate ideals in the hotels had him fighting the union everyday.

Riesner packed up and moved to Phoenix to escape the hotel scene, and says being in a small restaurant is really what he enjoys -- and he thinks it doesn't get much smaller than Atlas Bistro.

"At the end of the day my knees are shot, my hips are shot, and my back hurts, but it's fun," Riesner says.

"All this job is about is having fun."

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch