Chef News

Chrysa Robertson Dishes on Her Role as Exorcist and What It Takes To Be a Woman Chef

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Robertson also worked for pioneering women chefs RoxSand Scocos (RoxSand) and Donna Nordin (Los Mayas at El Pedregal) for a brief time, until her then-husband Tom Kaufman got a job offer at the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles. The two moved to California, where Robertson landed a job in pantry at Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton's Campanile.

This was 1990, when Campanile was the hottest thing going, and Robertson -- who was overwhelmed by 325 covers her first night on her own -- got her footing quickly. Silverton, who shared Robertson's wicked sense of humor, became a friend and mentor. Robertson describes the experience as "the best job I ever had," but it was one she left, after a year and a half, to work for Hiro Sone at Terra in Napa. She stayed with Sone for another year until she and Kaufman moved back to Phoenix with the idea of opening their own restaurant.

They found a space in Town & Country in 1993, hiring Chris Bianco to help them in the kitchen. "Here came this disheveled fool, mumbling. What I gathered was, he wanted to cook," Robertson says. Robertson and Kaufman stayed in the storefront space nine months before moving the restaurant to its current location, where the vintage cowboy decor is a funky-chic expression of Robertson's inner cowgirl. Robertson, who was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2011, founded the Phoenix chapter of the Slow Food Convivium in the 90s, and she has been instrumental in putting local farmers and food artisans on the culinary map.

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Nikki Buchanan