By Alison Bailin Batz
Photo by Debby Wolvos
Michael Siggins is the executive chef and owner of Pasta Brioni, where he specializes in traditional Italian cuisine, as well as NPX: A Neighborhood Joint, where he delivers twists on American classics.
So, you almost went the NASA route instead of the pasta-making one?
After graduating from Chaparral High School in 1999, I began studying aerospace engineering at The University of Arizona. But throughout high school and into college, I worked at Macaroni Grill, first in Scottsdale and then in Tucson. In 2000, I was named the youngest executive chef in the history of the company and left school to pursue it full time.
But you didn’t stay in the culinary world, or Tucson?
In 2002, I enrolled at Arizona State University to study business, exhausted from 90-hour work weeks in the kitchen. To help with tuition, I also worked full time as Starfire Golf Club’s executive chef. When I graduated in 2004, I opened my own accounting firm, focused on assisting restaurants with their finances, while pursuing graduate school.
How did you transition back into the kitchen?
My first client was Pasta Brioni, and I bought a small share of the company in 2006. It was then that I slowly started finding myself cooking for them. By 2013, I purchased Pasta Brioni and jumped back into the kitchen for good.
Tell us how you’ve evolved Pasta Brioni since taking over.
Aesthetically, we’ve done a total face-lift with one big project every summer. Menu-wise, we started making all of our own pasta, stuffing our own ravioli, and now change our menu seasonally as well.
And how did you come to open NPX?
I have always had several restaurant concepts in my mind, one of which is a sports bar with family-friendly touches. When I saw the space, it lent itself perfectly to my vision. So, in 2018, NPX was born.
What would readers be surprised to know about you?
I am an aspiring Olympic curler. Our four-man team won the U.S. Club National Championships earlier this year!
Pasta Brioni, www.pastabrioni.com; NPX: A Neighborhood Joint, www.npx.life.