Cullen Campbell Dishes on the Stupidity of a Certain Catch-Phrase and Shares His Feelings about Skinny Jeans
Nikki Buchanan Cullen Campbell in entry at Crudo
3603 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix
This is part one of my interview with Cullen Campbell, chef-owner of Crudo. Come back on Tuesday when Cullen explains why he has a soft spot for Emeril Lagasse and the local chef he considers a mentor.
Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, Cullen Campbell always knew he would produce art in some form. He took art classes throughout high school and college -- so many in college, in fact, that it took him forever to earn a degree in business management from ASU. His high school gig at a bagel shop may have been more about cash than creativity, but when he started attending cooking classes at Mantia's (a chef-driven BYOB in Memphis) right out of high school, the owner took notice of his enthusiasm and offered him a job. He worked there as dishwasher and prep cook for two years, watching Food Network whenever he could.
Buchanan Plenty of elbow room at Crudo
Because his dad lived in Arizona, Campbell moved here in the late 90's, where he began to build an impressive resume. His first job out of the gate was with Gregory Casale of Gregory's World Bistro. Campbell stayed with Casale for three and a half years, absorbing all he could before moving to House of Tricks, where he was chef de cuisine for another two years. When La Grande Orange opened the pizzeria next to the market, Campbell jumped on board because he knew the experience would "up his game."
He learned managerial skills (including "awareness") and the art of making great pizza dough before moving to Atlas Bistro -- where founding chef-owner Carlos Manriquez presided at the time. Campbell knew everyone there and Atlas became his fall-back whenever he was out of work. In 2005, he opened Camus at the Clarendon Hotel, a restaurant so fraught with issues that Campbell moved to Fine's Cellar -- a restaurant and retail wine shop -- before Camus closed. He stayed at Fine's for a year, but the restaurant struggled, given that the retail end of the business never really took off.