Chef News

Patrick Boll of Spotted Donkey Cantina ii

Keyon Fareghi

​Whether it's a politically charged conversation about corn syrup or we're talking about the restaurant he was going to open downtown, Patrick Boll has a lot to say. This German/Danish/Czech chef is the driving force behind Spotted Donkey Cantina ii. Boll has been in the Valley since '79 and earned notoriety for his success back in the day with Robert McGrath at Roaring Fork. We sat down with him and talked at length about everything but business. 

Person whose brain you'd love to pick: I could be very controversial and say Sheriff Joe, but I probably shouldn't. I know how the New Times feels. The person I always looked at sort of admirably as a chef is Tom Calicchio. He's a good friend of mine. I've eaten in the restaurant; I've worked with him, but I've never gotten to work with him for a long period of time. I did a stage with him when I worked at Roaring Fork - we did the James Beard dinner. I read his book. He is so humble.

So you watch Top Chef: I did in the beginning. It's gotten too dramatic for me now. In the beginning it was very serious and then when they did the professional series, but it's really just about the drama and the ratings. I just kind of lost interest.

Who knew there were politics behind corn syrup? Find out more after the jump.

Biggest indulgence: Pork. I do whole pig parties at home.

Most surprising thing you've learned working in the industry: I would say the comradery of everybody. In the group that I kind of grew up in we all kind of stuck together over the years. It's like when we need cooks or we need this or we need that, we're always there for each other. It's really cool that we still have that over the years because it is a very competitive business and I think we've lost that. Now, it's like, 'my restaurant is better than yours.' Where when I grew up in the business it was about how we're doing this altogether - 'I'm different than you, but we're all still the same.'

Food Network falsities: Unfortunately, the Food Network has ruined the industry. It has glamorized it. It is not a glamorous job. It is tough on your family. You know, it's tough being in this business -- you work long hours. I get one day off a week...if I'm lucky. You're here. This is my family, my extended family. You have to have that.

Corporate bullshit: When I worked at The Roaring Fork in the beginning we set the rules that we were closed on Sunday, and that was our family day, and then we had one day off the rest of the week. It meant that every employee had time to spend with their families and it was awesome - everyone loved it. We had the same staff for almost 10 years because we were an extended family. Once they started getting corporate, that's when Robert (McGrath) and I took off. When they made us open on Sunday, that was tough.

Ah, sugar, sugar: I love all the retro candies. I go to Smeeks all the time. One of my favorite places to hang out before they moved - and I think they finally closed [he's right, they did] - was Pop: The Soda Shop. I used to go in there all the time because I loved all the retro sodas, but I like drinking soda with pure cane sugar. I don't like the new stuff.

The politics of corn syrup: We're an obese country because of corn syrup. No one really recognized it up until the last year and a half that that is why this country is obese. Everyone's like 'well, how come Europe doesn't have the same problem?' It's because no one uses corn syrup over there. It's like 98 percent of everything we eat has corn syrup in it. There are a lot of people in Congress who finally realized this - it has gotten to that level. They're pushing. If you notice, Coke is bringing the throwback; Pepsi is bringing throwback with pure sugar. They're all doing it, and I think it's because of pressure from Congress saying, 'look, you either start using real sugar or we're going to force you to start telling people that corn syrup is bad for them.' I guarantee there's something we don't know of the government has told them 'you have five years to fix your problem and then we're going to tell everyone that corn syrup is bad.'

Souffle sorrow: We were doing a James Beard dinner and our soufflés dropped. I pulled if off though. I made new ones and pulled it off. It was about 80 souffles.

Stay tuned until tomorrow to find out about the kickass place Boll was going to open.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Keyon Fareghi
Contact: Keyon Fareghi