Chef News

Devin Walsh of Calistro California Bistro, part two

esterday we talked to Devin Walsh of Calistro California Bistro about some of what makes him unique as a chef. Today our conversation continues.

While his culinary experiences may seem pretty wonderful, not every task was terrific. Walsh dealt with a whole lot of garbage -- quite literally -- during  summers spent in New Orleans.

A sordid past: In college in New Orleans in the summer time when it was muggy and over a hundred degrees out, I was the trash man at the Audubon Zoo. It was a mini garbage truck that I drove around the zoo. I was the only guy who could do the whole run in one day. They were big 5-foot-tall barrels, 250 of those. I just challenged myself. A lot of the locals down there were starting to get upset because they thought I was trying to challenge them.

Best piece of advice: The first chef I worked for in Boston kept saying, "Keep it simple." I think he was just planting that seed - the way cooks grow is they start out trying to get really complicated and all of sudden something clicks, hopefully, and you realize it's about the product, not about what you can do to the food.

After the jump: the importance of searing earnestly.

Eric Ripert: It was important for me to kind of get to know him. I'm a big seafood guy. I make it a point to source out the best seafood. He's one of the world's best chefs.

Wait, there's another one? There are four kids in my family. I have an identical twin brother who does not cook. He's a venture capitalist. We're so different, but we have the same DNA. It's kind of weird how as we get older though we end up coming together. Owning my own business - it's not venture capitalism, but you're dealing with money and investors - it's closer than you think.

Seariously: A lot of people underestimate what a sear is and what it does. It can make a burger taste completely seasoned. Some of the seasoning on a burger comes from the sear you get on the meat - if you don't get that, then you'll just be tasting the bread. It's that big of a difference.

Sous vide snafu: I got in a lot of trouble with the health department for using that term. There was a big article with me and some other local chefs saying that we were sous vying and we don't care what the help department thinks. You need to have a permit to do it and even then there is a lot of gray area. Everyone claims to have a permit, but I don't think they do. Basically true sous vide is not allowed.

Don't miss Walsh's recipe for a caprese salad and if you missed part one yesterday, skip back now.

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Keyon Fareghi
Contact: Keyon Fareghi