Chef Simon Purvis’ work history sounds more like a travelogue than a résumé.
He went to culinary school in England, then worked in Edinburgh, Scotland, before moving to Toronto.
From there, he joined the Four Seasons in Vancouver, British Columbia, and did stints for the resort in Australia, Germany, Bali and Singapore. In 2001, he landed in Scottsdale as executive chef at the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North.
When Purvis took over the high-end Acacia restaurant at the Scottsdale resort, the cuisine was contemporary French. "It was the wrong kind of restaurant for this area," he said.
He transformed it into a steak and seafood eatery, with a commitment to using the freshest and best-quality ingredients available. Presentations are clean and unfussy, and the chef lets the natural flavors ooze from the entrees rather than clobbering them with unconventional toppings. Signature dishes include the bone-in buffalo tenderloin and the basil-grilled jumbo blue tiger prawns.
His work has brought him notice: The James Beard Foundation invited him and his culinary team to New York City to prepare a fivecourse dinner with wine pairings last Thursday at the prestigious Beard House as part of the "Best Hotel Chefs of America" series. The event was canceled because of the blackout, however.
But the food was already prepared, so Purvis got permission to serve it to St. Vincent’s Hospital across the street, because the cafeteria was out of commission. In what was possibly the best hospital food ever, about 600 staff members and patients were treated to the chef’s gourmet meal.
Q: With whom would you most like to "do lunch?"
A: My wife, without the children, and Sir David Attenborough, an anthropologist.
Q: What is your favorite dish to make at home?
A: Wok-fried black bean chicken with coconut rice. That’s something we used to eat a lot in Indonesia.
Q: What culinary gadget could younot cook without?
A: I can cook with almost anything. I’m not a gadget person.
Q: What three ingredients could younot cook without?
A: Salt, fresh herbs and olive oil.
Q: When it comes to eating, what’s your guilty pleasure?
A: Ihavetoadmit,Ido enjoy a good burger with fries and ketchup and all the sides.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant?
A: Sweet Tomatoes. Nobody notices the noise, mess or flying objects that come from my table. That’s just this stage in my life. Also: Ayung Terrace at the Four Seasons in Sayan, Bali. That restaurant has one of the most spectacular views in the world.
Q: What one cooking tip would you offer readers to make their time in the kitchen easier?
A: Go with the flow, don’t stress and be willing to adapt. Have a cold bottle of wine in the fridge and if things go wrong, pop open the wine. Don’t get caught up in the recipe.
Q: What is the biggest mistake youever made while cooking?
A: One time when I was in Vancouver I burnt some shallots that wereagarnish on the roast I was serving. I served them and got caught. They weren’t all burnt. I wasyoung, inexperienced.