When I caught up with chef Derek Upton for lunch recently I was surprised our paths hadn’t crossed before with our mutual interest in food, cannabis and the local restaurant community. Spending over an hour speaking with him about everything from food, cannabis & CBD, music and cell phones I realized we will be hearing more from him in the future.
Growing up in Fresno, Derek took to drumming at an early age at church. He didn’t think it would take him around the world playing for national acts, into the recording studio or playing his last gig at the American Music Awards. When life on the road began to take its toll he went to pursue a second act as a chef. Growing up in an Italian Portuguese family helping to cook meals at home he knew what he wanted to be back in the kitchen.
He wound up in Phoenix after touring with Scoti Slate and returned after attending The Institute of Technology in Clovis in 2012 and 2013 where he studied culinary arts and the business side of the restaurant industry. Derek made a name for himself in Phoenix working at Evo, Cafe Monarch, Original Gravity, The Windsor, Beckett’s Table and most recently The Breadfruit. He’s been the private chef to celebrities David Spade, Henry Rollins, Michael Rapaport and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Derek Upton cooks with cannabis
Educating himself on the benefits of cannabis and CBD became personal. It’s changed his life and ignited his passion for it as he once weighed over 500 lbs. He’s dropped over 150 lbs. since his journey started and wants to lose 150 more. As cannabis becomes legalized around the country Derek found that cooking with cannabis is what he wanted to do. Cannabis is more than the psychoactive THC that many associate with the plant and he’s looking to redefine the stereotype. Educating others of its health benefits in cooking and telling his story is how he’s going about it.
Using Instagram and other social media platforms, Derek parlayed his use of cannabis in cooking and being hired for private cannabis dinner parties to opportunities on TV. His recent appearance on Netflix’s “Cooked with Cannabis” was the start of another chapter in his life. Unlike most chefs who aspire of owning their own restaurant Derek wants to continue to cooking for others in a private setting and producing cooking shows and videos. Although cooking with cannabis is his specialty he does cook without it as well. Our lunch fell between conference calls where he’s discussing media and ambassador opportunities for the next phase of his career.
He does a lot behind the scenes connecting cannabis related businesses to one another to help move the cause forward. He’s currently filming his own TV show “Stay Hungry” and is on Instagram and Facebook at Chef Derek Upton.
Sipping on a chilled glass of rosé wine is a year round activity in Arizona with our mild and dry climate. When it gets hot here in the desert rosé taste even better with its refreshing and medium bodied character. The Arcadia neighborhoods Beckett’s Table has always known #ItsOK2DrinkPInk and will be celebrating the lighter bodied pink wine during National Rosé Week, June 6th-11th.
Sommeliers and owners Scott and Katie Stephens have built an international rose wine menu that should tempt all in for a taste of the fun and refreshing wine. Whether you are looking for a new rosé you can choose from a 3-2 oz. flight($14), a glass or bottle of rosé your sure to find a style you’ll like with all the variety of the week-long menu.
Summer Rosé Flight –
Dos Cabezas Pink, Sonoita, Arizona
Callaghan Rosé, Elgin, Arizona
Andrew Murray ‘Esperancé Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley, California
Rosé by the Glass:
Callaghan Rosé, Elgin, Arizona
Dos Cabezas Pink, Sonoita, Arizona
Beckstoffer ‘Hogwash’ Rosé, Saint Helena, California
Jean-Baptiste ‘Adam’ Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé sparkling wine, Alsace, France
Rosé by the Bottle:
Copain Rosé, Anderson Valley, California
Eyrie Vineyards Rosé Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Domaine Tempier Rosé, Bandol, France
Caduceus Merkin Jane Pink Rosé, Cochise County, Arizona
Cans of Dos Cabezas Sparkling Pink will be available as will champagne rosé by the bottle.
Chef Beckett will be preparing a special rosé pairing menu with noble toast, grilled zucchini, seared organic salmon and a chopped salad.
Are you scrambling trying to figure out where to take mom for Mother’s Day on Sunday? No sweat as Southern Rail & Beckett’s Table is offering a laid back atmosphere for mom and the family. To help put her in a relaxing mood they will be offering a complimentary glass of bubbly to the hardest working member of the family.
Mother’s Day specials
In addition to the bubbly for mom, both restaurants will be serving their seasonal menus and 1/2 price bottles of Arizona wines for the whole family.
Southern Rail will be serving up a gluten-free special of Organic Scottish Salmon served a top a bed of roasted cauliflower, spinach with a dill caper roasted garlic butter for $24.
Beckett’s Table will be offering a Mother’s Day special of Pan Seared Scallops alongside of green beans, potatoes, Chorizo, spinach, almonds and a creme fraiche for $28.
Beckett’s Table will open an hour earlier at 4p.m. and Southern Rail’s Brunch starts at 11 a.m. with reservations recommended for both restaurants. Call Southern Rail at 602-200-0085 http://southernrailaz.com/ and Beckett’s Table 602-954-1700 http://beckettstable.com/
Burgers, burgers and more burgers is what’s on the menu the next 4 Sundays in October as Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails hosts a weekly Burger Battle. 6 local chefs will be competing to see who has the created the tastiest burger. Starting this Sunday October 9th and for the 2 Sundays following, diners can watch the fun and taste the burgers created that will be judged by celebrity judges. Each weeks winner will compete on Sunday October 30th to see which chef has created the best burger.
Burger battle participating chefs
Here are the 6 local chefs competing and the schedule with the fun starting every Sunday at 3pm.
October 9th features Kelly Fletcher from the soon to be open Zen Culinary going up against Gio Osso of Virtu & Nico
October 16th has host Cullen Campbell of Crudo & Okra doing battle against Doug Robson of Otro.
Ocotber 23rd pits Justin Beckett of Beckett’s Table and Southern Rail against Upward Projects Chris Newstrom
October 30th is the finals for the 3 winners.
Burger Battle and brunch for C-cap
Okra will also be serving their regular Sunday specials that include all day happy hour, 1/2 off bottles of wine and mixologist Micah Olson will be creating a special cocktail & punch with Tito’s vodka for the Burger Battle. Part of the proceeds from each weeks event will go to C-CAP , a non-profit that helps get young men and women get started in their culinary arts career.