Cullen Campbell of Crudo on Cooking at the James Beard House and His Favorite Places for Wine in Phoenix
Lauren Saria Cullen Campbell of Crudo.
This is part one of our interview with Chef Cullen Campbell of Crudo in Phoenix. Campbell, whose résumé includes stints at Gregory's World Bistro and Atlas Bistro, opened his first restaurant, Camus, in 2005 and opened Crudo in 2010. Though he says he originally wanted to open a sushi restaurant, Campbell decided to go with Crudo's Italian-style sashimi concept because it would be something more original. Today, the chef tells us about what it was like cooking at the James Beard House in New York City and gives us the scoop on some of his favorite places to grab a glass of wine. Don't forget to come back Tuesday, when he tells us the story of Crudo's Crispy Pig Ears.
See also: Gnocchi Knockout: Rancho Pinot vs. Crudo
Nikki Buchanan Crudo's ricotta
The last time we chatted with Campbell, it had been just six months since he and co-owner Micah Olsen opened Crudo at the Gaslight Square shopping center in Central Phoenix. The restaurant, which formerly was housed in a boutique hair salon in Scottsdale, will have been at its new location for two years this April.
Things have been busy for the chef, who happily confesses: "It's always so much nicer to work for yourself."
For starters, being self-employed allowed him to live out one of his biggest dreams earlier this year when he went to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. The invitation to cook there came after a rigorous application process that included sharing the restaurant's press coverage, planned menu, and wine pairings.
"I'd been wanting to do this for 16 years," Campbell says. "And I want to do it again."
After hearing everything that went into the event, we're sort of surprised he does.
Campbell says he had to prep some of the food in Phoenix and then ship it overnight to New York. And because he had access to only the kitchen at the James Beard House at 8 a.m. on the day of the dinner, he also borrowed a friend's kitchen (at the W Hotel in the city) to prep some more. Then it was up bright and early on the day of the event to carefully haul all the food to the venue -- in cabs nonetheless -- for a full day of prepping, cooking, and serving.