At the tender age of 20, Mayo opened
Grilled Expedition at Desert Ridge. Later he split for culinary school in New York, then to the kitchens of Daniel and Savoy and back to Phoenix for stints at T. Cook's at the Royal Palms and J&G Steakhouse at the Phoenician.
Now, at Metro Brasserie, his work is cut out for him. The scene along Stetson Drive in Scottsdale isn't what it was before the economy crashed, and Mayo is doing his best to prove that French cuisine can survive in Scottsdale, even if that means including a burger or two on the menu.
Chef Mayo stops in with us this week to share his experiences behind the stove, his take on Scottsdale cuisine and his critique of truffles.
What flavor is Scottsdale missing?
I like to cook with rabbit. I think it's very versatile and i don't think enough people cook with it or really give it a chance. Some people are afraid of it but it really has some mild flavors; it's not all that far away from chicken.
What ingredient is overhyped right now?
I think truffles are probably a little overhyped. They're great and amazing and expensive and luxurious, but when it comes down to it, i think a lot of chefs use them as a crutch to help out a weaker dish that might not have any punch or interest. They just shave a little truffle over the top and they think it's going to fix it.
You were a head chef, opening a restaurant at 20 years old. What was that like?
We were fairly busy right off the bat so it was a challenge every day. I was a kid in a supervisory role for the first time. My management skills were terrible. I was probably cocky and yelling at people when i shouldn't have been, but it's all part of the learning experience.
You were also on the Iron Chef. How was cooking in front of a camera?
We went up against Kat Kora and our secret ingredient was ham. It's kind of a funny story because when I think of ham and I think when most people think of ham, it's a piece of deli meat. Then they lift the curtain and seven whole legs of pork were staring right back at us .... it wasn't like deli meat at all. We made a bunch of dishes, and lost by one point, but it was a lot of fun.
Do you watch other competitions or food shows?
I kind of feel like the Food Network has become the MTV of food. MTV used to play music and the Food Network used to show cooking. Now it's full of cake competitions and science ingredient shows. I'll watch Top Chef from time to time, but that's about it.