Working alongside the likes of chefs like Eric Ripert has not jaded Devin Walsh of Calistro California Bistro in the slightest. In fact, he's a humble guy, considering Walsh lived all over the world and cooked in metropolitan cities across the U.S. before landing as chef-owner Calistro in DC Ranch Crossing. A self-proclaimed "purist," Walsh was happy to share some of his food philosophies with Chow Bella.
Testing, testing... When I started doing this with the investors, the idea was just to do a test site. I was comfortable with this trade area. It's a new trade area; it's a very difficult trade area, but I think if you put a new concept out, you're going to end up working on things for a good year or two. You're not going to go for your flagship or your million-dollar restaurant site. We're really happy where the concept is right now.
Farm to table: The whole concept we do here is the California vibe, farm to table. People define that differently. They think buying from a farmer makes it farm to table, and that is actually not true. Buying the rawest product you can find makes it more farm to table. There are farmers out there, with the economy changing, who are actually doing their own processing. We do everything in house - it's raw product processed in house. That's farm to table as far as I believe it to be.
Find out how this chef keeps himself looking as good as his food after the jump.
Culinary conquest: It's very competitive. It's very rough, and I love that. I'm a competitor at heart - I've been that way my whole life. There's different levels of competitiveness that take over your life. Having complete control over the menu, I'm constantly trying to push myself to do better. My guys push me. Every menu we put out every three months gets better and better.
The vagabond: I've done a major move every three years. I've lived in Europe for seven years. I've lived in London, Germany, and we vacationed all over Europe growing up - that's what really influenced me and my style. If you look at my menu now, I have chicken schnitzel on there, which is one of my favorite German dishes in the world, but it's my updated version.
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The athlete: I do a lot of hiking. There is something about the Arizona outdoors. I love camping and right now we're into doing a lot of 10Ks, which is a lot of physical work. We're doing the Warrior Dash coming up and we did the Run for Ryan.
Wish you knew more about: Spanish cuisine. I've been to Spain. I just think the flavors and the ingredients are right up my ally.
Food for thought: I did Japanese food for a long time. I started doing that out in New York. I opened a place called Geisha where Eric Ripert consulted on the open. A lot of my philosophies on food come from that. It's the purist mentality, and I think it coincides with the California, farm to table mentality very well. They really complement each other.
Stay tuned until tomorrow for the scoop on Ripert.