4 Phoenix-Area Chefs to Watch and What Their Big-Name Bosses Say About Them
Nikki Buchanan Charleen Badman (left) and Chrysa Robertson mentor with a smile and in some cases, a big stick.
If you're any kind of food geek at all, you're already familiar -- by fork and good press -- with local celebrity chefs such as Chrysa Robertson, Chris Bianco, Kevin Binkley, Greg LaPrad and Charleen Badman. But what you're far less likely to know are the names and faces of the behind-the-scenes chefs and cooks who help make it all happen, the unsung heroes who keep their heads down and work while their bosses get all the glory.
Here are four kitchen warriors and rising stars you ought to know. They're young, they're talented, they're modest, and they're going places -- but only if they want to. For now, they're all sitting tight, listening to and learning from their own personal Yodas.
Nikki Buchanan From left: Greg LaPrad, Chris and Marco Bianco, Kevin Binkley Courtesy of Quiessence Tony Andiario holding housemade salami
Tony Andiario, 34
Tony Andiario, a quiet and intensely focused guy, has cooked all his life. He's an Arizona Culinary Institute grad who worked as commis (junior cook, the veggie chopper) at Michael's at the Citadel while he was going to school. He jokingly calls the position "about the equivalent to dishwasher but not as important." It was there he met Greg LaPrad , and the two became great friends. When LaPrad took over the kitchen at Quiessence, he brought Andiario on board as line cook, a position Andiario held for two months before becoming sous chef, then chef de cuisine. This is his second year as the Q's executive chef, but the title is pretty much just a title here. Andiario is on the line every night. He also makes pasta, breaks down whole animals, and collaborates with LaPrad about the daily-changing menu. This is his seventh year and eighth season at Quiessence.
What LaPrad says: Tony is one of the most talented cooks I've ever worked with, and I've seen him grow so much over the years. He's self-motivated and largely self-taught. We've read and researched so many things together. His kitchen is incredibly organized and he's demanding of himself and others. He's a very creative person, and he still pushes to elevate the food here. He's never satisfied and it's never good enough.