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Interview with Chef Peter DeRuvo of Prado

Posted on: May 24th, 2011 by Taryn Jeffries 1 Comment

So, it’s no secret that Amy and I have major love for Prado. A huge part of that can be attributed to Chef Peter DeRuvo, Chef de Cuisine of Prado at the Montelucia Resort. Each time that we have been in, we get to know a little more about him and his playful personality is infectious and highly entertaining.

All this begs to ask the question, can food taste better or can a meal be more enjoyable simply because of the love the Chef has for his craft? I think that it plays a major factor in your overall experience.

While I think that a bad dish might be made better if all the other factors (customer service, ambiance, attentiveness of staff, etc.) are exemplary…in the end you are still left with a bad dish.  With a stunningly crafted meal – add all those ‘extras’ in and you are left feeling like you won the culinary lottery.

I find it hard to believe that Chef Peter could ever present me or anyone else that walks through the doors of Prado with a less than impressive dish. His passion for food and creating are evident with the presentation and information he provides with each plate. I have tried a number of things that I would never have even considered, simply based on his level of excitement in describing a dish. To be told that beef heart was more tender than a filet or that lamb brains were so soft and delicate that you could spread them on a baguette like butter made me excited to try them in a way I could not have imagined.

If you have not been into Prado or Mbar, please do yourself this one favor, and get in as soon as possible. The man behind the kitchen doors is an absolute delight as a person and should serve as an inspiration to Chefs in kitchens all over the world.

PhoenixBites Interview With Chef Peter DeRuvo:

Taryn Jeffries: Is there one specific thing in your life that you feel contributed to your desire to become a Chef?

Chef Peter DeRuvo: Major factor is working with people, new products, desiring to create great ingredients, and getting a great sense of satisfaction from having people join the DeRuvo family!

TJ: You had previously shared with us that you worked for a time at an olive mill in Italy, how have you seen that experience manifest itself into your cooking or cooking philosophy?

CPD: The best thought I can think about Monticastelli gave to me amongst the olives, farm, and caretaking the property, was the opportunity that what I had known before was what I had yet to learn. Let’s just say ‘Humbling’ is the word that comes to mind.

TJ: What is the most specific thing that you can think of that makes a successful chef?

CPD: Never believe your own press! Don’t expect that anything is given to you and constantly drive to be the best and eventually, those around you are a mirror of what you have become. Hardworking, focused, passionate, and humble.

TJ: Where do you find inspiration for new dishes?

CPD: Places that I have been and people who I cooked with over the past 20 years. No TV, no books, no biting other chef’s dishes; all primal all the time.

TJ: What is your “go-to” meal when you are off the clock?

CPD: I am always on the clock and on the go, but when I go big off the clock it’s usually wings, fried hard, lots of blue cheese, and a large beer.

TJ: I know that it can be difficult with young children to get out and about, how big of a factor is the kitchen in your home?

CPD: Big time factor! I basically sing to my kids about how great veggies, fruit and simple preparation are – the best. My song, “if you eat broccoli you will get taller”, is always a fan favorite!

TJ: We had talked rather briefly about how you love to have your children help out in the kitchen; of the two is there a clear mini-chef in the making?

CPD: Yes, my wife plans. My daughter tells me how she wants everything to have salt and pepper, and my son just eats anything you put in front of him. They all will know the importance of great ingredients and simple preparation. And, respect the food.

TJ: Is there one specific ingredient (or ingredients) that you steer clear of, either at work or at home?

CPD: Everything that was put in front of me I respected. Either I liked it or not, I still respected it.  I don’t really put the kibosh on anything.

TJ: As a clear lover of Italian cuisine, what would you consider your greatest contribution to the menu in the pasta category? Fish?

CPD: They all are children, but the tagliatelli with black truffle, parmesan vecchio, butter Devine and duck egg takes the “cake”. Fish wise, it’s definitely the branzino with clams, mussels, greens, Crème fraiche, and head-on prawns;  it truly offers a new ‘classic fish chowder’ without the bacon.

TJ: In having seen you interact with your kitchen staff, it is obvious that there is a great camaraderie and respect there.  How do you think this is best accomplished?

CPD: Be hard… but fair… smile… but, be concerned… and above all always, help. Always.

TJ: Amy and I had the great pleasure of attending one of your Cook with Chef classes, and have recommended it to anyone who will listen.  Is this something that you created specifically for Prado diners?  What is your mission behind the classes?

CPD: Bringing the farm to the table! And promoting the local, but also the ethos of what great food can be.

TJ: Do you have a favorite food related film?

CPD: Babette’s Feast, Big Night, and Goodfellas (the food parts of course).

TJ: Most dog-eared cook book or food reference guide?

CPD: Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

TJ: If you were given the option of what your final meal would be, what would it consist of?

CPD: My mother’s lentil soup, antipasti of about 20 different ingredients, and Large Bistecca Fiorentina with more house red Italian wine that I can drink. And, scoops of countless gelato, any type. Also, it would have to be eaten at the farm in Tuscany.

TJ: Who would be your dream diner?

CPD: My whole family, past and new… All who made an impact in me being me.

TJ: If you had your own cooking show (which we highly encourage and would be more than happy to be your PA’s), what would it be called?

CPD: ‘Twenty minute meals’, that way we could get all the Rachael Ray watchers! Just kidding, ‘Bowl of Cherries’!

TJ: What do you think has been the most important lesson (or perhaps one that stood out the most) that you have been taught throughout all your experience?

CPD: I was working at a restaurant unnamed. Julia Child, Jean-Louis Palladin, Jasper White came in to eat and I got really busy. I was working the Antipasti station and my chef told me to hurry up! I told her I [was] making Julia’s antipasti and such and my chef told me “give me the @$%^^&&! food now!”, and followed it up by “Everyone’s Julia Child!”. Those are the words that make me realize that everyone’s important! That’s my philosophy! Everyone!

TJ: Cookbook, your own restaurant, that cooking show we talked about…what’s next for Chef Peter DeRuvo?

CPD: Cook great food;  get a deal to own your own place. Have great reviews and do your best; write a cookbook…Chef Peter DeRuvo who knows? It’s all a state of mind I guess. You tell me?

For more information about Prado, visit pradolife.com. Also, check out our recent re-cap of Prado’s Spring Lamb Dinner from May 13th!

Prado | 4949 E. Lincoln Dr | Paradise Valley, AZ | 480.627.3004 | pradolife.com

About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, 2017 Food Writer of the Year (Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame) Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen and that food is representative of love. Her current quest is to find the love in local dishes and the chefs behind them. In addition to running all things PhoenixBites, Taryn is also a freelance writer, sharing her insight on the best dishes and where to get them each and every month.

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