Chris Collins of Grassroots Kitchen and Tap: "Enjoy What You Do or Don't Do It at All"
Your go-to meal: Medium-rare burger, extra pickles, French fries, and a Coke. Classic, simple, and when done right can be as satisfying as any high-priced meal.
Jackie Mercandetti Roasted free range chicken.
I wish Phoenix had more: Restaurants within walking distance of each other. Nothing beats visiting a city like Chicago and spending an entire evening walking the neighborhoods and trying a dish at every kitchen.
One local chef/restaurant you admire and why: Chris Bianco. When I was home visiting from college, I went to Pizzeria Bianco and I watched Chris hand-make every single pizza that night. At first, I was amazed that the owner was the one actually working in front of the hot oven, but he would forever change my approach to the people who help me when I saw him go up to each cook that night, thank them, and give them a hug before he went home. That one demonstration of Chris' appreciation and respect for his staff has been with me in every restaurant that I have managed since then.
One national/international restaurant you want to hit this year: I am very fond of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician and look forward to visiting his flagship, Jean Georges, in May when my father, brothers, and I travel to NYC for a city restaurant tour.
The biggest lesson you learned from working at your dad's restaurants: "Keep it simple, stupid." My dad has always guided me to make the operations of our restaurants as straightforward and simple as possible.
The biggest lesson you've learned since opening your own restaurant: To take everything in stride. Don't get too high on the high or too low on the lows. Every day is a new day, and you have to keep you mind open.
If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?: I always tease my wife that one day I could sell the restaurants and become the swim coach at Brophy Prep, a team I swam for when I was younger.
Your perceptions of the neighborhood around Grassroots at Town & Country so far: Our neighbors are all great. Everyone has shown such wonderful support, and it feels like the entire city is pulling for Town & Country to continue its revival.
Describe your perfect last meal on Earth: I hope it will be Thanksgiving at the Collins household. Growing up in a restaurant family, we all had to work around the holidays, but Thanksgiving was always the holiday at our house that everyone had to be at. Wally cooks for days and the entire family comes together around the kitchen table.
Check out our past Chef and Tell interviews with:
Perry Rea - Queen Creek Olive Mill
Adam Brown - Noca
Steve Kraus - Press Coffee Roastery
Jason Raducha and Claudio Urciuoli - Noble Bread
Sasha Raj - 24 Carrots
Nick LaRosa - Nook
Joey Maggiore - Cuttlefish
Country Velador - Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
James Porter - Petite Maison
Cullen Campbell - Crudo
Mel Mecinas - Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North
Meagan Micozzi - Scarletta Bakes
Tyson Holzheimer and Joe Strelnik - Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Paul McCabe - T. Cook's at the Royal Palms
Eugenia Theodosopoulos - Essence Bakery Cafe
Eddie Hantas - Hummus Xpress
Jay Bogsinke - St. Francis
Dustin Christofolo - Quiessence
Blaise and DJ Aki - The Sushi Room
Sacha Levine - Rancho Pinot and FnB
Andrew Nienke - Cafe Monarch
Kevin Lentz - French Grocery
Aurore de Beauduy - Vogue Bistro
Justin Olsen - Bink's Midtown
Marco, Jinette, and Edmundo Meraz - Republica Empanada
Brian Peterson - Cork
Brian Webb - Hey Joe! Filipino Street Food
Lester Gonzalez - Cowboy Ciao
Renetto-Mario Etsitty - Tertio
German Sega - Roka Akor
Marco Bianco - Pizzeria Bianco
Brad and Kat Moore - Short Leash Hot Dogs and Sit...Stay