Bernie Kantak Explains What's Good about Food Network and How Josh Hebert Inadvertently Changed His Life

Bernie --seated:cropped.jpg
Nikki Buchanan

See also: Lifting the Wine-List Veil at Citizen Public House

This is part two of my interview with Bernie Kantak, chef and co-owner of Citizen Public House. If you missed part one, read it here.

The great thing about being a chef is: I get to throw a party every night!

The tough thing about being a chef is: It consumes your life completely.

Favorite cookbook: Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs. It's not as much a cookbook as it is a guide to escaping following recipes. I've always encouraged people to be creative in the kitchen, and the response I often get is, "I don't know what goes with what!" This book shows you how.

Buzzword you wish would go away: Circulator -- maybe just because I don't have one. I do have a birthday coming up. Just sayin' . . .

Citizen--Pork Belly Pastrami.jpg
Nikki Buchanan
Pork belly pastrami with rye spaetzle and Brussels sprout sauerkraut
If you could jump on a plane tomorrow to try a new restaurant, which one would it be and why?: It's tough to narrow it down to one, but I would like to take a month and eat my way through Spain.

Your favorite restaurant town and why: New York! My sisters are there, and you can get anything your mind can possibly think of at any time of the day!

Pet peeve in the kitchen: It actually just happened this morning -- an empty paper towel dispenser.

If your cooking were a genre of music, what would it be?: Freak folk. I use familiar products and methods but present them in a little bit of an odd fashion or peculiar combination sometimes.

Name two giants in the American food scene and explain why you admire them: Danny Meyer because he has an amazing eye for detail from all sides of the restaurant. He does several completely different concepts and does them all almost flawlessly. Anthony Bourdain for showing people such a broad expanse of options! I honestly don't think a lot of us would have the opportunity to serve fun delicious things like pig's cheeks if it weren't for shows like his. As much as I feel Food Network makes your average person think they can open a restaurant, Bourdain's show has made my job easier and more fun!

Name a local chef you admire and explain why: Josh Hebert. He's a genuinely good guy and to be honest, he saved me from a corporate life. He's probably not aware of it, but I was about to give up on opening a restaurant and I went into Posh for dinner with Tracy Dempsey. It was actually the first time I met Josh and I'm a little sad I can't remember what exactly he said to me, but truly, I went from being pretty much done with this business to wanting nothing more than to have a place and do it the way I wanted to do it with the people I believed in. So Josh, if you're reading this, thank you. I owe ya!

Location Info

Citizen Public House

7111 E. 5th Ave. Ste. E., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Tammie Coe Cakes

610 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Asadero Norte De Sonora

122 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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Cool anecdote about Josh Hebert. So glad he influenced Bernie to keep on. We are so lucky to have both of these guys and their restaurants here!

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