Chef Curtis Wright grew up cooking and hunting with his family. Venison, quail, rabbit, elk, and javelina were normal parts of his diet.
Wright obtained his first restaurant job at age 16, washing dishes at a golf course country club restaurant called the Hummingbird Grill. He also worked the grill on the ninth hole on the weekends, then started doing happy hour, then a little line cooking. Afterward, he ended up managing a Papa John’s pizza and a bakery at Costco.
Once Wright moved to Tucson, he could only find a job selling cell phones for Alltel. After a year, he quit and found a job as a line cook at Wilko when it opened. After another year, he became kitchen manager and moved to sister restaurant Time Market, where he became chef and helped start their exemplary bread program.
1) What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?
That’s a hard one… a few things stand out. Probably the first time I tried sauerkraut or blue cheese. I remember everyone saying how gross they were, but I loved them and still do.
2) What are you eating these days?
Right now I have a pregnant partner, so we just try to eat healthy. I always crave a savory bowl of food, rice or pasta with a protein and some veggies. I’m pretty simple at home.
3) What was the first dish you remember cooking?
I used to stay with my grandparents for a couple weeks during the summer and I remember my grandmother and I picking a recipe out of a cookbook when I was probably eight. We went to the store after I made my shopping list and bought all the ingredients. With minimal supervision, she allowed me to cook dinner. I made fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. It was a classic, I’m sure it wasn’t great though.
4) What concept, ingredient, or food trend are you experimenting with these days?
Honestly, I don’t keep up with food trends much. I just read and compare how different people do things. I like finding averages in techniques and seeing how to apply them. I’m always just trying to improve upon my methods and learning new ones.
5) Who would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?
Close friends, family, strangers, it doesn’t matter. Food brings us together and makes people happy.
6) What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?
I went to Mexico City last year and had the best meal of my life at a restaurant called Fonda Fina. I really want to go back and walk around that city and eat more food.
7) Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Chips, straight up… I have problem.
8) Which three Tucson restaurants do you frequent the most, aside from your own?
9) With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?
Easy, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy.
Catch Curtis Wright at Time Market, 444 E. University Blvd. For more information, visit timemarket.xyz.