By Alison Bailin Batz
Photo by Debby Wolvos
At Atlas Bistro, executive chef Cory Oppold creates multicourse, fixed-price menus that change regularly based on seasonal – and often local – ingredients.
What would we be surprised to know about you?
I didn’t work in a professional kitchen until age 22!
How is that possible?
I grew up on a dairy farm in a small Illinois town, milking cows and helping with our crops. My sister lived in the “big city” of Phoenix and loved it, so I moved here in 1998, at age 18, to attend school with plans to be an architect. I soon found myself eating out more than studying, fascinated with food I never saw on the farm. In 2001, I enrolled at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute to marry studying and eating together as best as I could.
So how did you finally get into the kitchen?
In 2002, an instructor saw something in me and helped get me my first job working at Different Pointe of View (DPOV) under then-executive chef Ivan Flowers. I would spend the next seven years mentoring under him, first at DPOV and then at L’Auberge de Sedona in 2007.
How did you make your way back to Phoenix?
In 2009, I came back to the Valley to put some advice from Ivan into action. He suggested I take time out from working in busy kitchens to teach, which would help me master my process for effectively and efficiently developing talent. So, I became an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale.
Was he right?
Yes, the slower pace not only taught me how to develop talent, but it also allowed me to develop my own signature approach to cooking: building complex flavors by combining multiple simplistic ingredients, treated as they were meant to be.
And, finally, tell us about coming to Atlas Bistro.
After quick stints at Binkley’s and Tarbell’s, I joined Atlas in 2014 as the executive chef, where owner Todd Sawyer embraces my approach to food and my passion for artful – and often abstract – plating concepts.
Atlas Bistro, 2515 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.990.2433; www.atlasbistrobyob.com.