Interview with Chef Beau MacMillan
At a recent “Lunch & Learn” class at Sanctuary at Camelback, I was able to sit down with Chef Beau MacMillan for a few minutes. Chef Beau is the executive chef at the award-winning restaurant, elements. He has also appeared on several Food Network shows, Iron Chef America, Worst Cooks in America and The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Amy Martin: First off, I’m sad to hear that you won’t be on the second season of Worst Cooks in America! What happened?
Chef Beau MacMillan: Here’s the thing… they had no idea if the show was going to be successful or not, you know? But, I’m glad it was. When they had filmed it, they track and research everything and it was competition reality show. They obviously have two chefs competing against each other. So, they felt like in the best efforts to keep the show positive they want to bring in a competing chef every season. So now, Anne Burrell is going to face off against, I believe, Robert Irvine from Dinner Impossible. I got a call from Food Network and it’s kind of bittersweet. I had no intentions of doing 2 or 3 seasons, but I wanted to win obviously. It was great, but it wasn’t the type of show I wanted to be because I didn’t like to see people fail and not be able to jump in. Every week was tough because I would have 4 guys standing there with tears in their eyes and I could not stand having to kick someone off.
Amy Martin: Well, I hope we see more of you.
Chef Beau: Thank you! I still do The Best Thing I Ever Ate. I had dinner with the president from the Food Channel and he’s talked about a couple other vehicles that might come up.
Amy Martin: Great! I’ll be listening for more updates! So, you were on Iron Chef America battling against Iron Chef Bobby Flay, the first season of Worst Cooks in America, and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Was it your goal to be on TV?
Chef Beau: It was not; believe it or not. I was happy being the executive chef here and having a great restaurant and being focused on the staff and the team. I can say honestly that I have a passion for food. So, I always enjoyed expressing that and I was always allowed to because I was very vocal in my restaurant and could come out in my dining room and was able to talk to guests and create experiences. One day, I was asked to be on Iron Chef America and after that competition, the Food Network has called me for certain things. I was surprised, I never had that dream! I’ve never asked to be on TV, they asked me.
Amy Martin: What dish are you most proud of here at elements?
Chef Beau: I’ve got to be honest with you; we change the dishes quite often because we are extremely seasonal. Everyone seems to love the calamari I do at the restaurant. I also did an oyster dish, that I was a fan of. It was a play on Oysters Rockefeller with spinach, Chinese mustard, and a sesame seaweed sauce.
Amy Martin: Sounds great! I report specifically on Phoenix lunch restaurants and since you are a resident here, is there anywhere you would point my readers to lunch? You’ve spoken about Zinc Bistro on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Chef Beau: I think Zinc has got a great atmosphere and vibe; not only for lunch but dinner as well. I think Petite Maison, James Porter’s restaurant in Oldtown, has a quaint, secluded, intimate atmosphere. Great place to have a great bottle of wine. You feel like you’re in French countryside; I love restaurants like that for their ambience, design, and food. I recommend that place for sure.
Amy Martin: Are there any foods that you absolutely would not eat?
Chef Beau: You know, I am one of the lucky guys that for whatever reason, I enjoy most things. I’ll eat lima beans although I probably wouldn’t have when I was seven, but I enjoy the flavors of most things. I was in Korea and I ate some interesting things, but silk worms – I passed on. They had some strange stuff, but generally, I will try anything.
Amy Martin: What would your best piece of advice be for a home cook who wants to get cookin’?
Chef Beau: That’s a great question. I said this a lot on Worst Cooks: the best piece of advice I have to give to somebody is basically just believe in yourself and never give up. So many people I’ve talked to say “Oh I can’t cook. I made this dish once and it came out bad” and I was like once? I make dishes a hundred times before I get them completely dialed in! Failing is okay in cooking because it is a direct pathway to succeeding. You gotta be able to get up, rub some dirt on it and get back to work!
5700 East McDonald Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ 85233
This article was originally featured on The Examiner.