Chef News

Chef Peter Deruvo of Cuoco Pazzo, Part 2

Today we have the second part of our interview with Cuoco Pazzo chef and owner, Peter Deruvo.

Deruvo and business partner Mario Rana, also owner of Mad Chef Gastro Pub, bring the decadence of a Roman feast to the heart of Old Town Scottsdale with a menu they hope showcases Deruvo's unique perspective on traditional Italian favorites.

Yesterday he talked a little about the concept behind his menu and today we'll get his take on opening a new restaurant and the real value of tomatoes and frozen peas.

Tomatoes and frozen peas?

I used to be a tomato fan but I'm more of a chili fan now....

You know, ironically, being in Italy everyone uses garlic, and olive oil and tomatoes and I'm like, "Ok, that's cool." But it's a fruit to begin with so why not use something where you can still gauge sweetness [too.] A pepper is still a fruit--it's categorized as a vegetable but it can still reproduce if you dry the seeds out...same with a tomato. At some points I probabley have like ten or fifteen different varietals of chilies in here. But actually ingredients like ginger and a lot of different spices are more important to me than just the simple salt and pepper, olive oil and tomatoes because people get [over-exposed] to that in the first place. I use a lot of bitter greens to counterbalance sweetness.

Things come in seasons that need to be addressed when they come in season. That's the way you need to eat: seasonally. If you see corn on the menu, you probably don't want to eat that because it's not seasonally available. Dehydrated corn? Maybe. Frozen corn that I shucked in the summertime and I'm using on my menu? I'm ok with that--IQF (Indivually quick frozen) is actually pretty good, cause I love frozen peas. And frozen peas are a big proponent of James Beard, which I actually study a lot.

The birth of Cuocco Pazzo

When I opened this place it had been so many incarnations to begin with that I actually had the place blessed by Tibetan monks. I knew someone that knew Tibetan monks so we all sat down and cleansed the whole place.

I'd met Mario prior, but I was always a little hesitant because it is my first venture as a chef, [on my own.] And you know, knock on wood, where ever I go, or where ever I'm at I always have a philosophy that food should be simple and handmade and thoughtful and not outrageously priced and [a chef shouldn't be] standing behind 17 other different restaurants, because I can't handle that structure. It's just been a real interesting birth to me. Because that's what it is...and you're always having to constantly wipe the baby's ass. Literally.

Location, location, location

This is a blessed place. The people that came in here asked me what I wanted, and I said health. I didn't say wealth. It's an awesome location. It's a sweetheart spot. It's off the beaten path... You can really just enjoy yourself without getting too caught in the hype. Because the hype's not about the chef...That's all gobbly bull shit.

Let's just come in and talk shit on the plate. If someone doesn't like something I take that as a blessing because if it's not good and I taste it and it's ok, then I make it better. And I make it better for them right there because immediate gratification is what it's all about.

Come back tomorrow for a recipe from Deruvo.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria