Greg LaPrad Explains Why Mangos Are Over-Rated and Gives the Best Lecture Ever to Negative "Foodies"
Buchanan LaPrad in the sun-room at Quiessence
Quiessence & Morning Glory Cafe
The Farm at South Mountain
6106 S. 32nd Street, Phoenix
602-276-0601 (Q), 602-276-8804 (MG), quiessencerestaurant.com,
This is part one of my interview with Greg LaPrad, chef-owner of Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar and Morning Glory Cafe. Come back tomorrow when LaPrad dishes about Quiessence's resident ghost and gives a hilarious answer to the "last meal on earth" question.
Greg LaPrad seems about as far from a Type-A personality as a guy can get, and yet, it wouldn't be inaccurate to call him driven, given that he started running the kitchen at Quiessence when he was 23 and bought the place when he was 26. Standing at seven feet and carrying himself in the slightly hunched-over fashion that tall people often do, he's been described as a gentle giant, and in many ways, the moniker fits. He's quiet and a little shy, a deeply intelligent person whose stature would be imposing if he didn't speak and move with such utter calm. A celebrity chef he is not, shunning the limelight of TV and reluctantly schmoozing with restaurant guests simply because he's much, much happier
Buchanan Chicken and pork osso bucco terrine with razz cherries and almonds, served with assorted pickles and crostini hiding out staying in the kitchen.
It's a place he's always spent a lot of time, cooking hearty Italian-American meals with his father (who inherited the cooking gene from his own Italian mother) or watching cooking shows on TV. He knew he wanted to be a chef by the time he was 12, but in an effort to please his father (an aeronautics engineer) he studied physics and engineering at Embry-Riddle, planning to be a pilot until 9/11 shook up the aeronautics industry to such a degree that LaPrad could gracefully bow out.
He applied to Johnson & Wales (having thoroughly researched it when he was 12) and took his studies there seriously, earning a 4.0 while working in various restaurants nearby. Eager to earn an externship in Europe when he graduated, he took an interim externship at Devon Yacht Club in The Hamptons, where he learned from the abundant talent around him. But it was his externship at Il Bottaccio in Tuscany the following year that shaped his career. Here, fresh fish was bought right off the boat, while farmers brought their cheeses wrapped in hay. "I didn't understand Italian food until I was over there," LaPrad explains, "I knew Italian-American, but the two are vastly different."