Chris Curtiss -- Former Chef at Noca, New Chef at NoRTH -- Answers the In-Between Question: What About the Children?

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Last week, Chris Curtiss, the former chef at Noca, who left his position in June and was hired on as the catering director for One Step Beyond Inc., a community-outreach program in northwest Phoenix for young adults with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism, officially signed the paperwork to work for Fox Restaurant Concepts as the executive chef at the new NoRTH being built on 40th Street and Camelback, -- this after only a little over a month at the Valley non-profit.

"So what about the children?" I asked Curtiss earlier this week, after we traded calls for a few days. "The last time we spoke, you were going to spend a couple of years at One Step Beyond."

"It was a really tough decision," Curtiss says. "I tried to make it work and I thought I was going to be able to generate enough revenue doing it. Financially it was hard and I missed being in the kitchen cooking."

Curtiss assures me he's planning to volunteer at One Step Beyond and set up time for the developmentally disabled kids to come into the kitchen at NoRTH.

He also tells me that although Sam Fox contacted him the day he left Noca, it wasn't until after several discussions and spending time with Fox's corporate chefs that he seriously started considering the position.

"When he first approached me I was apprehensive," Curtiss says. "I thought, 'What does he want from me? What's his angle?'"

He adds, "I know what I'm going to put into a position once I take it, so I have to believe in the concept completely."

After doing a tasting for Fox, the COO, and two corporate chefs last week, Curtiss says the deal was made on a handshake, with the official paperwork being signed that Thursday.

"I'm still looking for the assholes at Fox," Curtiss tells me. "I haven't found them yet."

Curtiss will be heading up the sixth location of the NoRTH chain currently being constructed on 40th Street and Camelback. He officially starts on August 25, although the restaurant won't be open until the first week of November.

"I'll be changing the menu to be a lot like the pasta program I was doing at Noca," Curtiss says. "Simple, uncomplicated Italian food with fresh pasta and ingredients."

Curtiss says eventually the rest of the NoRTH chain will follow the new menu he's creating. And while he's happy about his new gig, the plan he told me about in late June is still in play.

"I'll be in Phoenix for the next two years, until my fiancée finishes grad school, and then we're going to move. Sam [Fox] knows this. Maybe we'll even work on something out-of-state."

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