Get to know Executive Chef Isaac Carter of Old Town’s soon-to-open concepts, Crab & Mermaid Fish Shop and Bourbon & Bones Chophouse & Bar.
· Have you always been interested in the culinary arts?
I think culinary arts were an extension of all the travel we did while growing up. I can’t remember a time we weren’t loaded into the family car going somewhere. Having that sense of adventure and trying new things is so essential in this career. However, I was always sticking my nose and fingers in the kitchen with my grandparents. They instilled in me a deep-seeded affinity for fishing, farming, baking & some serious southern cuisine.
· What can diners expect from the new concept, Crab & Mermaid?
Fresh, simple and diverse seafood with fun twists on traditional classics.
· Coming from MA, what are you most looking forward to about living and working in Arizona?
This area is the epicenter of the Southwest. We are so close to dynamic cultural, entertainment and culinary activity.
· Tips for at-home chefs tackling a seafood dish?
Keep it simple but be willing to be bold. Always go for the freshest seafood. And when tackling any recipe, ‘success is the sum of a lot of small things done correctly.’
· What ingredients and/or dishes should at-home chefs try out this spring?
I think the use of African or Mediterranean spices can bring alive a number of seafood, meat and vegetable dishes. I personally like ras el hanout or za’atar spice. The springtime brings a plethora of vegetables. It is a great time to try out pickling and/or canning at home. It is not nearly as complicated as it might seem. It’s fun to play with combinations of flavors, colors and spices. As always try to shop locally as possible.
· Fave pizza topping?
The chef in me says mushroom and goat cheese but I can always go for pineapple and bacon
· Fave dessert?
Anything with chocolate and peanut butter
· Fave cocktail or bottle of wine?
Bourbon preferably in the form of a mint julep or a nice glass of Rioja
· Fave midnight snack?
· Fave cereal?
Prime Steak Concepts, the folks behind Steak 44, Dominick’s Steakhouse and the soon-to-open Ocean 44, not only please Valley palates with some of the tastiest cuts of beef but are also one of the most philanthropic groups in the area.
Valley restaurants will vie for $10,000 during the Seventh Annual Arizona Taco Festival Oct. 15 and 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Salt River Fields. Attendees—30,000 are expected—are invited to dine on more than 100 types of tacos for $2 each.