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September, 2012, Page 52
Photo by Michael Woodall
PAYTON CURRY - CHEF
Payton Curry has made a name for himself in the Valley food scene – at times as much for his brash and bratty personality as for his formidable talent in the kitchen. Valley foodies will remember Curry airing the messy details of his divorce from Caffe Boa a year ago. But the former bad boy chef, whose Valley resume includes notable restaurants like Caffe Boa, Digestif, and Downtown pop-up micro-eatery Welcome Diner, says he’s cleaned up his act both personally and professionally. Curry’s rebellious tendencies are now strictly kitchen-centered, with his biggest vice being a twice-a-week farmers’ market habit.
Curry’s love for simple food done well is reflected in his newest venture, Brat Haus, a German-style beer hall that he and partner Dave Andrea opened in Old Town Scottsdale in early July. Curry’s respect for food is reflected in his farm-to-table emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients and a fervent devotion to making everything from scratch. From artisanal sausages to homemade sauerkraut, Curry describes Brat Haus as a place for “butchery, brats, and beer. There’s honesty behind that.”
How did Brat Haus come into being?
My partner, Dave Andrea, frequented a few sausage houses on the West Coast and then approached me through another local chef, Justin Beckett, because of my past with butchery and old school meats. Also, last year I was in Germany for a while, which was kind of cool. We saw big steins of beer and bigger pretzels.
What motivates you in the kitchen, and has it changed over time?
It’s totally changed. What motivates me now is the clientele. It’s the public. It’s the people that I see at the farmers’ market twice a week. And you know, as executive chef, chef, chef de cuisine – at the end of the day, we’re all still cooks.
You have a reputation as a chef that plays by his own rules. Do you think that’s deserved?
I do play by my own rules in a way, because I was told as a young cook to go back to my roots. I’m still trying to do that 15 years later. The ego side of life and all that stuff, at the end of the day we’re not rock ‘n’ roll gods. We’re line cooks.
What’s your new favorite ingredient to play with in the kitchen?
One of the coolest things that we’re doing right now is messing with some tinctures, some of our own house-bottled craft cocktails. We’re doing a blackstrap and Medjool date syrup for rum and then making that cocktail with all the ingredients we have around.
What is your guilty pleasure food?
The coconut cake at Beckett’s Table. Holy crap. I could crush like five of them.
If cooking were like the Olympics, what event would you medal in?
The triple jump. You come into the kitchen and immediately it’s breakfast. Then it’s lunch. Then it’s dinner. Then at the end of all that you have to stand up and either take a gold, a silver, a bronze, or nothing. And if you misstep on any one of those jumps, you’re done.
Do you have any surprises in store for the Brat Haus?
One thing that I’m really looking forward to is Oktoberfest this year. It’s when our farmers really start showing off with their bounty, and for us, Oktoberfest is going to be a big beer time.
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