Cullen Campbell of Crudo on Crispy Pig Ears and Being a Restaurant for Foodies
This is the second part of our interview with Chef Cullen Campbell of Crudo in Phoenix. Today we're picking up where we left off yesterday, when he told us all the work that went into his experience cooking dinner and the James Beard House in New York City. Despite hours of prepping -- in two different states and three kitchens -- Campbell says the experience was so enjoyable he'd like to do it again. But what do you put on the menu when you're cooking a dinner you've dreamed about for 16 years?
Lauren Saria Cullen Campbell
See also: Crudo in Phoenix Rolling Out Brunch This Sunday
Lauren Saria Crudo's pig ear appetizer.
"We wanted to showcase everything we do here," Campbell says, which is to say that the menu included some of his signature raw fish entrees, Arizona produce and offal, including his well-loved crispy pig ears.
And speaking of those pig ears, Campbells says they've become one of the most popular items on the menu - which is funny considering he never meant to sell them to regular customers.
"I bought a 10 pound bag of pig ear and thought, 'This is going to last me a month,'" he says. "I really bought it for my chef friends who come in at the bar. Now we sell an order almost every table."
All the cooking left little time for eating, but be assured Campbell didn't leave New York without hitting one of the country's most famous spots: Momofuku Milk Bar. If you make it there he recommends you try the Candy Bar Pie.
Cullen has a few things in the works back here at home. Crudo recently started offering Sunday brunch, which he says has been going "a lot better than he thought" it would, considering how little they've been doing to promote it.
The menu, a tight and enticing one, offers dishes such as ricotta waffles, bacon and egg risotto and the popular pork belly poutine with fingerling potatoes, gravy and fonduta.
"It's pretty damn good," Campbell says.
And he's hoping to launch a new weekly (or maybe bi-weekly) event in the New Year. Inspired by the success of the restaurant's recent Beaujolais Nouveau launch party, at which time he tested the concept, Campbell says he's looking to start weekly polenta board nights.
Done family style, the dinners will feature wooden boards of Hayden Flour Mills polenta with roasted meats, pickled vegetables and side jars of house-made sauces. Everything we come with free refills and each week will feature different meats or a different style/theme.
"It was a lot of fun," Campbell says of the first run. "People were out here having a blast."