When chef Jared Porter left The Parlor in September to start his own venture called Clever Koi -- a modern noodle and dumpling house in Central Phoenix planned to open this fall -- the Central Phoenix pizzeria owned by father-and-son-team Dan and Aric Mei (the two also also own Nello's in Ahwatukee) had some big shoes to fill.
Who best to take the over the proverbial (pizza) reins? How about someone who was there when the doors first opened?
Louisiana-born Logan Stephenson was the sous chef under Porter when The Parlor opened in 2009 (prior to The Parlor, Stephenson was at Noca under then-chef Chris Curtiss). Stephenson stayed at the pizzeria for three years until the city of San Francisco lured him away. A year-and-a-half later, and following a gig as lead pasta cook at Locanda in San Francisco, Stephenson came back to the Valley as executive chef of Isabella's Kitchen, the Italian-American restaurant in North Scottsdale which opened in October of last year.
"It was a great restaurant and a great learning experience," Stephenson tells me. "But when this opportunity came up, I just had to come back."
Stephenson says, for the most part, he'll keep The Parlor's menu intact, but will supplement it with his own creations and seasonal dishes in the next two weeks or so.
"I have an affinity for seafood," he says, "and we'll use only the best seasonal ingredients with as much local emphasis as possible."
Given that Porter left with sous chef Joe Absolor (the two will be co-owners and co-chefs of Clever Koi), Stephenson has tapped Miguel Yeo, who was also at The Parlor at its grand opening and since then has assumed several positions in the restaurant, as his new sous chef.
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"I never expected I would come back [to Phoenix]," Stephenson says. "But of all the restaurants I've worked at, The Parlor has always been my favorite. I've got a great crew, top-notch servers, and loyal guests. Not many chefs get to walk into a restaurant like that."
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