Eddie Hantas of Hummus Xpress on What He Learned in Culinary School and the Difficulties of Being a Restaurateur
This week, we're talking to Eddie Hantas, owner and chef at Tempe's relatively new Mediterranean restaurant Hummus Xpress. Here, Hantas does street food-style eats with a serious chef's attention to detail. You'll find roasted, sauteed seasonal vegetables as well a rotating array of colorful hummus varieties. Yesterday, we got the scoop on how Hantas went from Beruit to Tempe, with pit stops in Las Vegas and Michigan, and today we'll find out more about how he got the idea for Hummus Xpress.
Lauren Saria Chef and owner Eddie Hantas of Hummus Xpress works in the kitchen.
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In 2007 he started Eddie's Bistro, his own dive-y, late-night pizza joint, but quickly found that selling slices of cheap pizza to college students wasn't going to be enough pay the bills. So he added hookah. Hantas admits he wasn't the ingredient-driven chef then he is today. There was no connection with the food he served; it was about making money, and more honestly, about making ends meet. He closed the place after five years, when things "were getting heated" with the city and county over the hookah side of the operation.
Lauren Saria Inside Tempe's Hummus Xpress.
For the next year he bounced around kitchens all over the Valley, from Sam Fox's North to the Herb Box. While he was figuring out his next move Hantas attended and graduated from Scottsdale Community College's culinary program. With some hands-on experience already under his belt, Hantas says he benefited in a more unexpected way from the education.
"It makes you more gutsy, that's what culinary school does," Hantas says. "And [SCC] is a good value."
Perhaps it was the schooling that gave him the guts to go for his dreams with Hummus Xpress. Before he came to the idea for his fast-casual healthy eatery, he toyed around with a few other concepts -- "Perhaps another pizza joint?" he thought, and at one point he considered the idea of a mac n' cheese-only restaurant.
"I wanted to do something simple," he says. "I didn't have a lot of money."