In the September issue of Arizona Foothills Magazine, we unveiled the top 11 chefs in the Valley based on votes by dozens of most talented local culinary luminaries. Here, we reveal each chef’s complete Q & A. Get to know Chef Doug Robson of Phoenix’s Gallo Blanco and Otro.
Has the culinary arts always been your passion?
Cooking has always been a big part of our family culture so naturally one of my first jobs was working in a deli/coffee shop.
Tell me about your first culinary job.
Working in La Jolla when I was 16. As I mentioned above, it was a little coffee shop that served sandwiches, salads and frozen yogurt back in 1987. I was a cashier when I got hired; soon after, that they asked me if I could learn how to make the sandwiches and the salads–tuna salad, that kind of stuff. I made good money and it paid for the gas (.75/gal) and insurance plus I had enough left to spend on other fun things.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Very complicated question. Since my first job, I have done all facets of the restaurant from dishwasher to executive chef and know transitioning a business owner which has been a huge learning curve but very gratifying.
What is your tastiest dish?
Depends what I am craving and time of day.
Breakfast or dessert: the flap jacks at Gallo or Otro. Sunday: a bloody Mary. Huevos rancheros. El Español at Otro.
What are your thoughts on the Valley dining scene?
Well, I don’t think its a scene more of a restaurant culture. We have much more choices than in 1996 when I came here. I think it’s because you are seeing more and more restaurants using their best efforts to find and procure local ingredients. Most importantly, a lot more restaurants cooking from scratch. That I think has has helped really create a better restaurant scene (culture) in the Valley.
How to you keep creative in the kitchen?
Stay out of your comfort zone. Look at your cooking technique and add to them. Talk to chefs, go to farmers’ markets, travel by road, meet other chefs even if you don’t know them. Bouncing things and ideas all the time with other chefs. Share ingredients and sources.
Photo by Cassandra Tomei.
Check back next week for another Valley Top Chef!