When we caught up with Peter McQuaid, winner of a 2015 JBF Taste America scholarship, he had just arrived in New York City to attend a culinary conference, but he’ll be flying back home in time to start culinary school and to attend our Taste America event in Phoenix on September 23.
JBF: What does it mean to you to be a JBF Taste America scholarship recipient?
Peter McQuaid: To be a JBF Taste America Scholarship winner is a huge honor! It is not just about the scholarship money—the money definitely will help lowering the cost of school—but being a part of the James Beard Foundation is far greater than money. It is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am so pleased to be part of such a great organization!
JBF: Describe your ideal culinary career. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
PM: After traveling, learning, and experiencing all I can, my dream is to open a fine-dining restaurant in my home state of Arizona. I hope to eventually expand out to multiple concepts in Arizona and maybe California. A few of my ultimate goals are to receive a Five-Star/Five-Diamond rating in Arizona and to receive a James Beard Award. I will work extremely hard to truly put Arizona on the culinary map!
JBF: What is something you love to cook for your family and/or friends?
PM: I love to cook with my family and friends. One of my favorite things to make is homemade pasta of any kind. It is such a delicate process, but there are endless possibilities. I love to show authenticity when I cook, and to get back to where food comes from.
JBF: What are the top five things you've learned in the kitchen?
I will be attending culinary school in just a few days, but I have been working in the industry for quite a while. In a kitchen, you learn about food, technique, sourcing, and tasting, but a few of the most important things I’ve learned are how to work clean; how to work fast; how to work smart, not hard; and most importantly, how to be consistent. You cannot succeed unless you are consistent in what you do, and to me that means tasting everything and having high standards for everything you do.
The James Beard Foundation is proud to donate a portion of all JBF Taste America 2016 events to the James Beard Foundation's Taste America® Scholarship Fund. From April 1 through May 15, 2017, local culinary students are invited to apply through jamesbeard.org.