Stephen Lott is the Chef de Cuisine at Pizzeria 712 and today is his birthday! In honor of this momentous occasion, we wanted you to get to know him a little better.
Where are you from? Orem, UT
How did you get started in the kitchen? I worked at a couple restaurants, then staged (interned) at Pizzeria 712 one day. I realized what I was missing, so I took a job as a dishwasher so I could learn. I didn’t go to culinary school, so I read a lot and I’m always trying new things. It might be combining a new ingredient with a technique I know, like braising a cut of meat that I haven’t worked with before.
What’s your favorite ingredient? My menus are inspired by what’s seasonal, so it changes it a lot. I also like to work with ingredients that aren’t really popular. I don’t try to mask the flavor; I want people to realize what’s great about it. Say you don’t like fennel — well, here’s something that’s really fennel-forward that highlights what other people love about it. Maybe I’ll change your mind.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing? I’d be on the road, playing music. I was in a band where I did the vocals and bass. We were a hardcore metal band, so I was inspired by Medea, Godspeed, and Black Emperor. It’s always been music and food for me.
How tall are you? I’m 6’7. Everyone in my family’s pretty tall — I have 2 sisters and 2 brothers. One of my brothers works at Communal. Hi Vance!
Is it hard being giant? It was pretty difficult to figure out where to get clothes. I’d go to Big and Tall and turns out, you have to be Big AND Tall. No Big and Short or Tall and Skinny, like I am.
What’s the story behind your skin art? I started my sleeve when I was 18. It’s a vision of a city being taken over by Nature. I’m really into post-Apocalyptic fiction like Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and Anthem. You know — “what would the world be like if Man just disappeared?” My favorite book is The Passage by Justin Cronin.
What’s the question people always ask you? They ask me what my favorite meal is. I’m not fancy — I’d say my mom’s spaghetti bolognese. She makes some pretty solid Mormon classics, too.
How do you feel about the whole Food Network/celebrity chef craze? I’m not a huge fan of Food Network, but at the same time, I think it has done awesome things for the food industry. I’ve definitely seen growth in how people approach food and I think it helps people who are doing the real thing get great exposure.
Where do you see yourself in a few years? I always thought I wanted to own my own restaurant, but P712 actually feels like it’s mine because I have so much creative freedom. I mesh really well with the Heirloom brand, which is about making good food but not getting too wild or charging you a ton of money for it. I like to read about molecular gastronomy, but I think simple food is perfect. You can still awe people with good ingredients instead of scaring them.
Any unusual talents? I can shotgun a beer upside-down.