Chef Dustin Christofolo of Quiessence Introduces the New Brick Oven Table, Edible Garden, and Wine Program
On Monday, we chatted with Dustin Christofolo, the new executive chef at Quiessence, about how he's prepared to take over the high-profile position at the end of the month. If you missed the first part of the interview you can read it here. Today, we're back to talk about a few new things you'll find at the restaurant this season including a picture-perfect edible garden, wood-fired brick oven, and a new wine program.
Lauren Saria Chef Dustin Christofolo dishes on the new changes to Quiessence.
Christofolo graduated from culinary school in 2008, and his training included spending six months in Italy learning true Italian cooking -- which Christofolo will tell you is totally different from American-Italian technique. It was during this time, he says, that he began to develop the foundation for the Southwestern-Italian cuisine he'll be doing now. It should be a nice continuation of what LaPrad (who also studied in Italy) was doing before.
"What I got out of [culinary school] is to take what you want and make your own style," Christofolo says. "My style is pulling Southwest ingredients and putting my own flair on them with Italian-style technique."
But after coming home from school to Arizona, Christofolo says, he still didn't feel totally ready to jump into a kitchen.
Lauren Saria Chef Christofolo picks a flower from the edible garden.
"Once I got back, I was still kind of clueless," he says.
So he went to work at the Farm Kitchen, the Farm's casual lunch outlet. The experience helped him make a lot of connections with local food producers, but when people approached his mother about The House at Secret Garden, he jumped on board. He's been there ever since.
As for the menu at Quiessence, Christofolo says the things won't change too much, though he will be making a "few new deviations." He describes himself as a hands-on type of chef ("I put myself on the line every night," he says) who's not so much into the chef-ego thing.
Mostly he says the changes are coming by way of improvements to the property. For example the new "Maya's Foraged Garden" menu, which will feature products foraged and found by Maya Dailey of Maya's Farm. There's also a new edible garden with colorful dainty flowers that can be plucked and used on Quiessence's plates.