It was just another day at the office and pie was on Managing Editor Kelly Kramer’s mind… for very good reason. The night before, she dined out at Beckett’s Table and after dinner, she tucked into a slice of the fig pecan pie. Next day, she couldn’t stop talking about that pie. What was the deal with that pie? I mean, it was just a slice of pecan pie, right?
Below, Chef Justin Beckett talks about Kelly’s favorite pie, as well as what goes into his food, his cooking style, and why you should eat at Beckett’s Table.
What did you envision when you decide to open up your own restaurant?
The vision was always clear to us. We wanted to open a restaurant that felt like a dinner party — like we were having friends over to our home and throwing a party. We wanted the neighborhood to feel as if the restaurant was theirs and we were running it for them. The restaurant had to be a place where friends, business people, first dates AND families could come together.
What makes Beckett’s Table so unique?
I believe that our always welcoming, never say “no” attitude is a unique feature. I also believe that we treat every guest as if they were an old friend coming home. We really want everyone to feel “hugged” when they enter our restaurant.
The culinary scene has come a long way in the Phoenix area… what do you attribute that to?
The farmers markets have taken hold, which is great for local farmers, restaurants and the public. I also think that in general, we are supporting and rooting for the little guy and/or the independent restaurants. I think that Phoenix is trying really hard to be a food town.
How did you come up with your menu? What are you most proud of?
The menu is comprised of foods I like to eat and foods that are in season. We are constantly coming up with new dishes or ways to improve the dishes we already make. A lot of our menu items start with a conversation about this or that and snowball into a great dish. I am proud of the whole menu, and if there is something that I/we don’t love… we change it. That is the beauty of having a seasonal menu that we print in house.
What makes a dish a Justin Beckett dish, that is, how do I know I’m eating your food?
I think there is a little bit of comedy or “not taking myself too serious” in every dish I make. Sure, there is technique and structure, but really, I just want to take a classic dish and make it current and fun, appealing to the eye, and of course very tasty.
My colleague Kelly Kramer raved about your fig pecan pie… so what’s the story behind your pie?
Well, pecan pie is a classic, but it is always too sweet, so we added some figs and changed up the pie dough to make this unique pie. Then we added housemade citrus cream cheese ice cream to liven up to the richness, but knock down the sweetness and round it out with a bit of “zest.” I like that it ties into Arizona since pecans and citrus are abundant here.
So, when you’re not in Phoenix, where do you like to eat out?
In Tucson, Ilove Cafe Poca Cosa; in San Francisco, I love Bakery Tartine and Bar Tartine; in New Orleans, I love Cochon.
Information: Beckett’s Table is located at 3717 E. Indian School Road Phoenix, AZ 85018; 602-954-1700; http://www.beckettstable.com