When you think of Phoenix, Ariz., you might think of the word “desert,” but when you’re at Phoenix restaurant Beckett’s Table, you’ll be thinking “dessert.” (Seriously, this Foodable Top 25-ranked restaurant featured on an episode of Table 42 whips up a succulent, build-your-own s’mores plate with house-made marshmallow, caramel-whipped peanut butter, and chocolate-dipped bacon.) Of course, with signature dishes like the Beckett’s Table fork tender short ribs, the menu caters to more than the sweet tooth.
At the helm is chef Justin Beckett, who also steers the kitchen at Southern Rail. From a dishwasher staring longingly at the hotline to finding himself in culinary school just days after graduating high school, he went on to become the youngest sous chef at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion and being heralded as the “Social Media Chef” when he began blogging recipes from home — and this was back before he had a restaurant to call his own. Building a following before even having a building? Talk about impressive.
Beckett’s style is all about the classics and comfort. This culinary mastermind dabbles in New American fare with a deliciously Southern twist. Curious to learn more about what makes this chef tick? Here's what Beckett had to say when we asked him six, quick questions.
The Quick Six
Foodable: What’s the first meal (that you can recall) that changed your life?
Justin Beckett: I remember a meal I ate in Barcelona, Spain, on the small patio of my hotel room overlooking Las Ramblas. Earlier that day, I had wandered through the open-air markets buying amazing strawberries, loaves of fresh bread, gooey, stinky cheese, cured meats, and fresh veggies.
I ate all the simple yet elegant foods, almost in total silence, listening to the sounds of the city. I have never forgotten that meal, how simple it was, how good it was, how passionate I felt in that moment about making and eating good food. A kind of an "Aha!” moment for me.
Foodable: One ingredient you could not live without?
JB: I hate to sound cliché, but I would have to say olive oil. So versatile and rich, great for cooking or using in cold dishes.
Foodable: What's the most important lesson you learned — good or bad — in your first year of owning a restaurant?
JB: I learned that treating your team like they are your family is the most important way to build a culture in the building. Caring for your guests and exceeding expectations every time is paramount.
Foodable: Who is one person that you would love to cook for (that you haven’t already)?
JB: My grandmother was so great in the garden and the kitchen. She made me love foods that I thought I hated. It would be an honor to cook for her.
Foodable: Where is your favorite restaurant to eat at when you aren’t working?
JB: I find that my wife and I are always eating our late-night snack at The Parlor. We really enjoy the fresh, handmade dishes that are served late.
Foodable: Who is your culinary mentor?
JB: I truly believe this is not just one person. I am constantly inspired by the cooks in my kitchens, by the way they make their way through the shift and produce the volume of high-quality food.