Nine On The Line With Jim Murphy of Kingfisher and Bluefin

January 30, 2015
By C.J. Hamm
By C.J. Hamm

Jim “Murph” Murphy is a legend in Tucson. As chef and partner of the wildly popular Kingfisher and Bluefin restaurants, many of previous Nine On The Line participants have listed Kingfisher as one of their top three Tucson restaurants. With his reputation preceding him, he does not require a huge intro. I figured I’d lead into his Nine On The Line column with a quote from the man himself on what he and his partners are currently working on:

“Both Kingfisher and Bluefin are serving a lot of new oysters from the Northwest that are from wild beds. Because they are tidal, the shells are not so delicate and easier to shuck, the meats are sweet, briny, and crisp. We are also getting a product from Baja that is a great oyster. Summer and Road-Trip menus are already being worked on. The fish on the Board specials change daily with 10-12 offerings throughout the week. At Kingfisher we age a Blanco Tequila using a Solera system of sorts, in a series of oak barrels to create our own reposado for signature cocktails and also a great sipping beverage. We use it for a baked oyster dish we call “Rocky Point”. It has cilantro pesto with pine nuts and parmesan, reposado, and some fine breadcrumbs. They are wicked excellent.”

1. What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?

Blackened Redfish, foaming lemon-parsley butter at Jerome’s circa 1983

2. What are you eating these days?

Rarely what the doctor says. I am a sandwich Guy, good bread and something to fill it with, usually non traditional stuff.

3. What was the first dish you remember cooking?

Fried Chicken with my Quaker Grandmother, using an old silver fork to turn the chicken that had the tines worn down on one side from hard use in a Griswold skillet.

4. What concept, ingredient or food trend does everyone seem to love, but you just can’t stomach?

I have never met a food item I would not try. I am not a big lover of molecular gastronomy, yet I have not done much with it.

5. What chef, with us or passed on, would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?

I enjoyed cooking in a skills class at the CIA with Chef Bruno Ellmer, he would speak of his land in upstate NY, and all he harvested from it. I have always thought that cooking with him away from school would have been enlightening.

6. What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?

San Francisco, from dinner at Gary Danko, to a breakfast experience in the Panhandle that town has it all. Oh and by the way The San Francisco Giants are The World Champions, in case you did not know.

7. Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Vanilla Soft Serve Cone, with a chocolate crack dunk

8. Top three Tucson restaurants?

Abstain, I like to go to a place that I know what I will be ordering, so depending what we are in the mood for, that is where we go. There are many great restaurants in Tucson

9. With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?

The Smoked Salmon Bellies from Pt Loma Seafoods to start. Kingfisher’s Creole BBQ Shrimp and Anson Mills fresh Antebellum white Grits with cheese, Caesar Salad from Kingfisher, Blackened Ribeye Steak, sauce Bearnaise, roasted Brussel sprouts,with rendered guanciale, caramelized shallots, caraway, lemon. Mashed Gold potatoes with horseradish, Warm Pear Frangipane, Horchata ice cream, and some of Jonathan’s Almond Roca too.

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