By Alison Bailin Batz
Photo by Debby Wolvos
Two Brothers Tap House & Brewery hails from Chicago, as does its executive chef Josh Downing, who cooks up elevated pub fare to pair with the locally crafted beers.
What inspired you to get into cooking professionally?
While I always liked cooking – I attended culinary school after high school and worked in restaurants along the way – it wasn’t until I joined the Army National Guard and was stationed in Afghanistan for a year, where we were limited to prepackaged and processed meals, that I really had that my moment of clarity. It was definitely a case of not appreciating something – in my case, both eating and cooking good food – until it was gone!
Like Two Brothers itself, you are also from Chicago?
Born and raised. I actually made my way to Arizona just last year to be a part of Two Brothers, which was founded in 1996 in a Chicago suburb, initially just as a brewery. It eventually grew to a full menu focused on great beer pairings, and even expanded into a coffee-roasting operation as well.
What have been some of your career highlights?
I have more than a dozen years of experience, most notably as executive chef for the award-winning Winberie’s Restaurant and as executive chef of Chicago’s famous La Cantina chophouse.
Tell us about some additions to the menu since taking over the kitchen.
I kept the core favorites on the menu but added more vegetarian options, out-of-the-box appetizers, and my own specialties. Think pork belly lettuce wraps with barbecue-braised pork, lemongrass, ginger, charred pineapple and cucumber.
What is your favorite thing to cook off the clock?
I love to cook most seafood and any type of barbecuing, at work or in my backyard.
Who is your culinary hero?
Thomas Keller. Like me, he prefers the KISS method – keeping it simple! He is also quieter than some of the larger-than-life personalities out there. That is much more “me.”
Are there Any foods you don’t like?
Believe it or not – ketchup!
Two Brothers Tap House & Brewery, 4321 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.378.3001; www.twobrothersbrewing.com.