Josh Riesner of Scottsdale's Pig & Pickle Dishes on Bartending Bullshit and What He Ate That You Probably Never Will
Buchanan Josh Riesner with lots of meat
Pig & Pickle
2922 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale
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This is part one of my interview with the Pig & Pickle boys: chef-owners Josh Riesner and Keenan Bosworth. Today is Riesner's day in the sun. Check back tomorrow to see what Bosworth has to say about the trend he hates and the local chef with whom he had the most fun in the kitchen.
With his tats and hippie bandana, Josh Riesner looks like a renegade, but the first words out of his mouth are about his mother -- who went to school, bartended to pay the bills and raised Riesner and his brother on her own. You can hear the love and pride in his voice when he speaks of her, offering a peek behind the persona of a guy who cusses a lot and wears his irony like armor. Days after this interview, it occurs to me that Riesner is shy.
Buchanan Left, Bosworth (big on pig); right, Riesner (big on pickle), center , bartender McGregor (the ampersand and glue that holds it all together)
Growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, he was a hard-working kid who hung out in restaurants washing dishes and making salads. "I didn't know that I liked the restaurant business then," he says, "it was one of those subconscious things." But he did know that he didn't like school (despite being a brain who graduated with honors) and that he wanted to "get the hell out of town."
After earning a hotel and restaurant management degree from Johnson & Wales, Riesner bounced around the country, working in restaurants in Rhode Island, Boston, West Virginia, Las Vegas and L.A. before winding up in Phoenix, where he went to work for James Porter at Tapino. He had a brief stint with Mel Mecinas at The Four Seasons, but when the HR person seemed overly concerned about his tattoos, he decided then and there that he'd never work in a corporate environment again.