Edward Farrow of The Cafe at MIM Dishes on Menu Integrity and Starting a Fire at River Café
Buchanan Edward Farrow at the head of the line
The Cafe at MIM (Musical Instrument Museum)
4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix
Edward Farrow isn't a typical chef with a typically warm and fuzzy story about his early relationship with food. He didn't make pies with his grandma or work in a restaurant kitchen before he'd gotten his driver's license. Finding his way to executive chefdom and a solid footing in the farm-to-table movement was a bit more roundabout for this Phoenix native, who was a business major and avid tennis player in his youth.
Buchanan Local tilapia with polenta, carrots, turnips and broccolini
The way he remembers it, a friend who was a student supervisor at the university cafeteria begged him for help one day when the dishwasher didn't show. Farrow rolled up his sleeves and jumped in, continuing to wash dishes for a year after his graduation -- to the dismay and chagrin of his parents. The next summer, he landed a job in La Jolla in a similar fashion: a desperate chef at The Crab Catcher hired him on the spot after immigration had raided the restaurant. Farrow grilled fish and steamed rice for another year in what he calls a "scoop and serve" operation until his boss encouraged him to go to culinary school.
While attending the CIA in Hyde Park, Farrow worked for David Burke at River Café, where he got his first taste of fine dining. After a year and a half, he headed back home to see his parents and wound up spending another year and a half under the tutelage of Chris Gross, who owned Christopher's and Christopher's Bistro at the time. Following a girl back East, Farrow landed a gig at the Inn at Little Washington, where he hated living in the boonies but enjoyed the work. Ever the businessman (and clearly, a budding sourcer), he started buying morels on the cheap from hillbillies in West Virginia and selling them to high-end restaurants in D.C., which is how he met Gerard Pangaud of Gerard's Place and wound up in his kitchen for two and a half years.