Payton Curry Dishes on Marketing Bullshit and the Futility of Eating Kale in the Summer
Nikki Buchanan Payton Curry at the blackboard in Brat Haus
This is part one of my interview with Payton Curry, chef and co-owner of Brat Haus, scheduled to open July 2. Come back on Tuesday for part two.
3622 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
With his tousled curls, blue eyes, and rosy complexion, Payton Curry looks a cherub -- without the wings or the extra padding. He has the healthy glow of a person who eats well and lives right, and he could pass for a college kid. But at 33, this former fallen angel -- who has faced down his share of demons -- is a 19-year veteran of the kitchen, a restaurant consultant with his own company (Curryosity) and the chef-partner (with local restaurant vet Dave Andrea) of Brat Haus, slated to open Monday, July 2.
A disciple of the farm-to-table movement, Curry is fanatical about sustainability, earning a reputation for cooking snout-to-tail, and making as many dishes as possible in-house. He admits to being "a wild child who needed structure," which he got in spades when he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
After interning at the Four Seasons in Singapore and finishing culinary school, he moved to Napa to work for Gray Kunz and Todd Humphries at Martini House. He was working for Michael Tusk at Quince in San Francisco when Peter Kasperski (Cowboy Ciao) stole him away to open the now-defunct Digestif in Scottsdale. Curry headed the kitchen at Caffe Boa (Tempe and Mesa; Mesa has since closed) before creating his own nine-seat pop-up restaurant at Welcome Diner. And in recent months, he's been behind the stove at FnB.
Of Brat Haus -- a casual beer hall featuring craft brews, artisan sausages, house-made sodas, hearth-made German pretzels and Belgian fries -- Curry says, "This isn't rocket science; it's peasant food. So come to the Brat Haus and be peasantly surprised."
What's your favorite food smell?: Lemon verbena. It grows very well here in AZ and it goes nicely with both sweet and savory dishes. It's wonderful infused into olive oils, simple syrups for lemonades, ice creams, and crème brulees. On the savory side, it makes for a wonderful marinade for poultry and fish.
What's your favorite cookbook?: The Elements of Taste by Gray Kunz. That book completely opened my eyes. It's got coffee stains on every single page. It makes you understand what salt, acid, and texture have to do with everything. Culinary schools should tell their incoming students, "Read this book before we start."
Name an ingredient you love to cook with and explain why: Honey. It replaces shitty-ass corn syrup. It's nature's Karo Syrup and it helps the bees fight Monsanto.