Chef News

Pete DeRuvo Dishes on the Mouthwatering Italian Food He Grew Up On (You Will Be Jealous) and Praises Three Local Chefs (Although One Goes Un-named)

See also: Davanti Enoteca: Believe the Buzz; It's Sensational See also: Chuck Wiley Shares His Oddball Guilty Pleasure and Makes the Best Cooking-to-Music Genre Comparison Ever See also: Justin Beckett Dishes on Roy Yamaguchi and Describes His Fantasy Restaurant

This is part two of my interview with Pete DeRuvo, executive chef at Davanti Enoteca. If you missed part one, where DeRuvo dishes about the phenomenal chef Phoenix lost to NYC, read it here.

What really turns you off when you're dining at a restaurant?: Restaurants that have the beauty but not the bite.

Name two of your favorite Phoenix restaurants: Rancho Pinot, hands down. We know who runs the ship and her commitment to a solid ethos of food, locally and organically grown. And Atlas Bistro. Josh and Keenen are beyond their years, They're fun, progressive and demonstrate solid technique all the time. Love those dudes!

Name a national/international chef you greatly admire and explain why: I admire Chris Cosentino [of Incanto in San Francisco]. I worked with him at Johnson and Wales and respect his ethos on food.

Who taught you to make salumi?: Mike Tusk, Paul Bertolli, Paul Cannales, Lazzaro Cimmadorro (Italian chef in Italy). I learned a great deal, but as I grew from cooked and formed terrines, my Prado staff and I tried new ingredients and preparations such as mortadella with truffles. I always allow for growth within the arena and strive to get better with time.

Favorite thing to eat growing up: My mom's braciole with all the braised meats. Describe a typical family meal: Always a simple braised dish, usually pork shoulder with sausages and polpette; simple pasta, with a grating of cheese and dash of olive oil to bless it; greens were also a part of my daily intake, legume soups, and lesser high-end cuts that go longer on your buck and in your tummy. Our grander meals usually took place at Nonna's house where the house smelled of braciole, end cuts of liver's, tripe and bolito misto. Always fresh bread and table wine, where my grandfather Mike said the blessing, and our meals usually lasted the whole day -- plus hand-made desserts: biscotti, and ricotta cheesecake or Cassatta. Those were the days of innocence but they formed my views about how food should be made and enjoyed -- at the table with family.

Favorite thing to eat now: Different types of pastas and their sauces.

Weirdest thing you ever ate: Pig head stuffed with liver and pork farce. Wow!!

If you weren't a chef, you would be: A sculptor or painter.

Describe a meal you'll never forget: Eating for the first time in Tuscany at the estate I worked at. Cooking pizzas in the oven that was 120 years old, grilling Bistecca Fiorentina with a Piedmontese porterhouse, and eating among the sunflowers, enjoying the garden and gentle breeze that engulfed me during that time with friends, my chef and acquaintances that I will never forget. Pet peeve in the kitchen: Dirty salt and clutter.

Guiding principle about cooking: Clean as you go, listen, take good notes, have goals every day, believe in what you do, have fun, cook with love and everything looks and tastes better.

Advice you would give an aspiring chef: Work in a kitchen for free. It did wonders for me and I never went hungry! Read a lot, travel frequently, buy lots of books, create better environments for yourself daily. You are who you hang out with!

What do you understand now about being a chef that you didn't 10 years ago?: Keep everyone on the same page, every day, every shift, every moment. Things go sideways when you don't communicate!

What's the best thing about being a chef?: Watching the growth of the chefs I work with, seeing them progress and gain more experience. What's the hardest thing about being a chef?: Special family-time lost.

Last meal on earth: On the Amalfi Coast with all of my family for a week of sun and beach, a gathering with table wine and lots of seafood and whole animals to cook on the spit roaster.

What should be written on your head stone?: And for this kind sir, you shall be rewarded generously!

Enjoy this Chef Salad? Check out Nikki's previous interviews with: Pete DeRuvo of Davanti Enoteca Chuck Wiley of Cafe ZuZu Justin Beckett of Beckett's Table Bryan Dooley of Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe Jeff Kraus of Crepe Bar Bernie Kantak of Citizen Public House James Porter of Petite Maison Johnny Chu of SoChu House Neo Asian + Martini Bar Stephen Jones of Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails Chris Gross of Christopher's Restaurant and Crush Lounge Chris Curtiss of NoRTH Arcadia Payton Curry of Brat Haus Mark Tarbell of Tarbell's Josh Hebert of Posh Kevin Binkley of Binkley's Restaurant Lori Hashimoto of Hana Japanese Eatery Larry White, Jr. Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken & Waffles

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Nikki Buchanan